About this time every year, Medicaid updates certain charts of Medicaid rules. Income and asset limits are often adjusted for inflation. The following are recent changes to the Louisiana Long Term Care Medicaid regulations. Note that exceptions exist to many of these rules and we are providing this information to be general in nature.
- Spouse's Resource Standard. When only one spouse enters a nursing home, the spouse who stays outside of the nursing home (often called "Community Spouse" because they are still residing in the community) can retain a certain amount of Countable Resources. For 2016, the Spouse's Resource Standard was $119,220. For Admission Dates from 1/1/17 to 12/31/17, the Spouse's Resource Standard will be $120,990. Example: Grandpa enters the nursing home 2/1/17, while Grandma stays at home. Their combined bank accounts total $350,000, andthey have no other assets besides a home and a vehicle. They will be required to be private pay in the nursing home and spend their $350,000 on Grandpa's care until these funds are spent down and they have less than $120,990 remaining. Then, Grandpa can apply for, and presumably qualify for, Louisiana Long Term Care Medicaid.
- Spousal Maintenance Needs. This figure increased from $2,980.50 in 2016 to $3,022.50 for 2017. Example: Let's say, in the above example, Grandpa and Grandma spend down all of their bank accounts below the Spouse's Resource Standard. But Grandpa and Grandma each have $1,800 of monthly income from pension benefits and social security ($3,600 total). The Spousal Maintenance Needs provision allows Grandma, in the above example because she is a Community Spouse and needs some income to live off of, can keep the first $3,022.50 of income that they have. The reminder of their income will be assigned to the nursing home, and Medicaid will pay for the balance of Grandpa's nursing home care.
- Home Equity Limit. Perhaps you've heard that your home is "exempt" for Medicaid purposes. A deeper dive while enable you to realize that while the home is not a Countable Resource in determining your Medicaid eligibility, your home that is in your estate when you die is subject to Medicaid Estate Recovery regulations which require Medicaid to force the sale of your home after you die to reimburse Medicaid for what they spent on your nursing home care. But if you own a home that is valued at more than $560,000 in 2017, note that the Home Equity Limit for 2017 is $560,000 (up from $552,000 in 2016.
What does all of this mean? It means that you need to plan ahead to protect the value of your home and your life savings from losing it all to a nursing home stay. Click the button below if you would like to watch my 23-minute video which teaches Louisiana residents how to protect their home and life savings from nursing home costs.