Medicaid can be very helpful, if not necessary, to help keep an elderly or disabled person in a nursing home or in assisted living, but accessing Medicaid benefits for both are very difficult. There is a long list of income and asset requirements, the application process and many other confusing and difficult parts.
Nursing home Medicaid, at this time, is an entitlement. If you are in the nursing home, have your income and assets below the required levels, apply, and the nursing home has a Medicaid bed available, then the applicant will get onto Medicaid. If you have assets, an elder law attorney can legally protect assets from the nursing home. This is part of our social safety net.
Assisted living Medicaid benefits are much more difficult to come by. Medicaid's assistance to help pay for your assisted living is not guaranteed, even if you are in the assisted living facility and run out of money. There is a waitlist to be accepted on benefits and the waitlist is long. I went to a seminar last week and another attorney mentioned the waitlist for people in Florida to access assisted living Medicaid to be at 12,000 people. While only the state of Florida knows for sure, I believe this is a good figure. An example of nursing home Medicaid and assisted living Medicaid is as follows:
- Dad is very sick and needs nursing home care in Florida. Dad's assets are below the asset cap and income below the income cap. He has not given away assets within the 5 year look back period. When Dad (or is his family) apply for Medicaid, he will be accepted on Medicaid and it will pay for his stay in the nursing home.
- Same facts here but Dad is in the assisted living facility and he has run out of money. Even if Dad applies for Medicaid, there is no guarantee that Medicaid will help pay for his assisted living care due to the Medicaid waitlist!
The Florida assisted living waitlist is not first come, first serve - the waitlist is a triage system based on helping the sickest and neediest first. Generally, this means helping people stay at home longer, so the state generally moves people off the waitlist if they are at home rather than being in assisted living.
Very, very importantly is is your elder is in the nursing home for 60 days and applies for Medicaid, the long wait list can be bypassed! I have written more about Medicaid and assisted living on this other portion of our website, but wanted to post the rumor of a 12,000 person waitlist.
If you want to learn more about Medicaid and asset protection planning for you or your loved one, please attend one of our free monthly seminars. Sign up here to find a date and attend!