Kathryn T. Joseph & Associates, Inc.
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House panel endorses changes to Medicaid accounting

A U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce health subcommittee voted 19-13 on Feb. 7 to endorse a bill that may change how Ohio and other states calculate couples' annuities for nursing home benefits. H.R. 181, which went through a detailed review by the panel, was introduced by two Republicans.

Proponents of the legislation hope that H.R. 181 will save the Medicaid program millions of dollars by shifting more of the burden of nursing care expenses to private insurance plans. By counting half the annuities of a spouse living in a nursing home as assets, more seniors may need to pay for care with their own savings or insurance. According to one representative, annuities purchased with non-marital assets would not be covered by the bill.

Advocates of H.R. 181 believe that the changes made to Medicaid eligibility will finally force those with the means to do a better job using their own savings and insurance to pay for nursing home care. Some Democratic representatives disagree. Long term care insurance companies have traditionally supported legislation like H.R. 181 because it can potentially grow sales in the industry.

For seniors in or near retirement, figuring out how changes to annuity calculations will affect the benefits they receive can be very confusing. By gathering all available financial information and reviewing the potential changes the legislation will make if it is enacted, a long term care planning attorney can recommend actions that will secure the funding needed for nursing care. In many cases, quality of life can be maintained through different investment strategies despite changes in Medicaid calculations and eligibility.

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