May 14

House Democrats Call for Repeal of Medical Device Tax

More than a dozen Democrats are pressuring House leadership to advance a bill that repeals ObamaCare’s medical device tax before Memorial Day. Rep. Scott Peters (Calif.) led 17 House Democrats in a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) urging “timely passage” of the bill. Peters and 17 other Democrats warned that the 2.3 percent tax on medical devices is prompting companies to slash their budgets on research and development, which they say “puts the discovery of new breakthrough medical technologies at risk.” The medical device tax, which applies to all manufacturers and importers, has been a much-maligned piece of ObamaCare since its passage. Lawmakers from both parties — including prominent Democrats such as Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Al Franken (Minn.) — have repeatedly called on Congress to repeal the provision. The provision was initially included as a funding mechanism for the law. Repealing the provision would cost $26 billion over the 2015-2024 period, according to a February report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

For the article from The Hill, click here.

May 11

Medicaid’s Gift to Children Who Help Parents Postpone Nursing Home Care

In most states, transferring your house to your children (or someone else) may lead to a Medicaid penalty period, which would make you ineligible for Medicaid for a period of time. However, there are circumstances in which transferring a house will not result in a penalty period.  

One of those circumstances is if the Medicaid applicant transfers the house to a “caretaker child.”  This is defined as a child of the applicant who lived in the house for at least two years prior to the applicant’s entering a nursing home and who during that period provided care that allowed the applicant to avoid a nursing home stay.  In such cases, the Medicaid applicant may freely transfer a home to the child without triggering a transfer penalty.  Note that the exception applies only to a child, not a grandchild or other relative.

Each state Medicaid agency has its own rules for proof that the child has lived with the parent and provided the necessary level of care, making it doubly important to consult with your elder law attorney before making this (or any other) kind of transfer.

Others to whom a home may be transferred without Medicaid’s usual penalty are:

  • Your spouse
  • A child who is under age 21 or who is blind or disabled
  • Into a trust for the sole benefit of a disabled individual under age 65 (even if the trust is for the benefit of the Medicaid applicant, under certain circumstances)
  • A sibling who has lived in the home during the year preceding the applicant’s institutionalization and who already holds an equity interest in the home

For more on Medicaid’s asset transfer rules, click here.

May 7

Cost of Private Nursing Home Room Now Averaging $91,250

The median cost of a private nursing home room in the United States has increased 4.2 percent to $91,250 a year, according to the 2015 edition of a Cost of Care survey that the insurer Genworth has conducted for the past 12 years.  Genworth reports that the median cost of a semi-private room in a nursing home is $80,300, up 3.8 percent from 2014.

The price rise was slightly more modest for assisted living facilities, where the median rate ticked up 2.9 percent, to $3,600 a month.  The national median rate for the services of a home health aide was $20 an hour, representing a 1.3 percent increase over 2014, and the cost of adult day care, which provides support services in a protective setting during part of the day, rose from $65 to $69 a day. 

Once again, Alaska was the costliest state for nursing home care, with the median annual cost of a private room totaling $281,415. Oklahoma again was found to be the most affordable state, with a median annual cost of a private room of $60,225.

The 2015 survey was based on responses from more than 15,000 nursing homes, assisted living facilities, adult day health facilities and home care providers. The survey was conducted by phone during January and February of 2015.

For more on Genworth’s 2015 Cost of Care Survey, including costs for your state, click here.

For more articles on senior living, including alternatives to nursing homes, click here.

April 24

Estate of Former Tenant Sues Landlord for Buyout Payment

A New York City landlord and the estate of one of the landlord’s tenants are tussling over whether the landlord is required to continue paying on a buyout of the tenant now that the tenant is deceased.

Walter Blomeyer, a black-cab driver, lived for decades in a single-room apartment in a building owned by Icon Realty Management, according to a recent article in the New York Post. When Icon decided to convert the building into luxury condominiums, it offered to pay Mr. Blomeyer $525,000 to get him to move. Mr. Blomeyer accepted the deal, which required Icon to pay Mr. Blomeyer $300,000 and allow him to live rent-free in another one of their buildings for a year before making the final $225,000 payment.

Unfortunately, Mr. Blomeyer died in February of a heart attack before the final payment was made, and Icon has refused to make the payment to Mr. Blomeyer’s estate. Mr. Blomeyer’s estate has filed suit against Icon for $225,000. According to the Post, Icon’s attorney argues it doesn’t have to pay the estate because there was nothing in the agreement about the estate benefiting.  “His estate is entitled to nothing,” the lawyer said.

For the article about this case from the New York Post, click here

April 21

Medicaid Applicant Received Proper Notice of Estate Recovery

A Michigan appeals court rules that a Medicaid recipient who was already enrolled in Medicaid received proper notice about the state’s right to estate recovery when the state provided notice in the recipient’s second application.  In re Estate of Keyes (Mich. Ct. App., No. 320420, April 16, 2015).

In 2007, Michigan amended its Medicaid law to include estate recovery, pending approval by the federal government. Esther Keyes entered a nursing home and began receiving Medicaid benefits in 2010. In 2011, the federal government approved the estate recovery plan. In 2012, Ms. Keyes submitted a Medicaid application that included a statement acknowledging that Ms. Keyes’ estate was subject to estate recovery. Ms. Keyes died, and the state sought recovery against her estate.

The estate argued that the state could not recover benefits because state law requires the state to notify a Medicaid recipient about the possibility of estate recovery at the time the recipient enrolls in Medicaid. The trial court ruled that the state did not notify Ms. Keyes at the time of enrollment and granted the estate summary judgment. The state appealed. 

The Michigan Court of Appeals reverses, holding the state properly notified Ms. Keyes that she was subject to estate recovery. According to the court, state law requires notice when the applicant seeks Medicaid benefits, not when the applicant enrolls. The court rules that because Ms. Keyes sought benefits in 2012 after receiving notification of the state’s right to estate recovery, the state provided proper notice.

For the full text of this decision, go to: http://publicdocs.courts.mi.gov:81/OPINIONS/FINAL/COA/20150416_C320420_38_320420.OPN.PDF

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