doctor with medicaid chart

Could More Changes Be on the Horizon for New York State’s Medicaid Program?

Over the last few years, New York State has been looking to change its Medicaid program. As part of former Governor Cuomo’s budget for fiscal year 2021, New York State drastically amended its laws to provide for a thirty-month look-back period for community-based long term care services (i.e., home care), among other changes. Due to the pandemic, however, the implementation of this new look-back period for home care services has been repeatedly delayed. 

Currently, the look-back period would apply to gifts made on or after October 1, 2020, but only for those applications submitted after the new rules are implemented, which right now is slated to be July 1, 2022, though it is likely to be delayed beyond that date.   

New Changes in Governor Hochul’s Proposed Budget

In January 2022, Governor Hochul proposed more changes to New York State’s Medicaid program as part of her proposed budget for fiscal year 2023. In a deviation from previous administrations, the proposed change would eliminate the resource test for Medicaid applicants who are aged 65 or over. Currently, for an individual aged 65 or older to qualify for Medicaid, he or she must have less than $16,800 in countable resources. 

What Does This Mean? 

If the proposed bill passes, New Yorkers aged 65 or over will not need to spend down or give away their assets before applying for Medicaid. However, they will still need to comply with the income limits of the Medicaid program. While there are income limits once on Medicaid that will still be applicable, any excess income of an individual receiving homecare services can be protected by utilizing pooled income trusts under New York Medicaid rules.

Do I Still Need to Plan? Yes! While the proposed changes may make it easier for many New Yorkers to qualify for Medicaid, it is still important to plan ahead. Under New York’s Medicaid recovery laws, Medicaid can recover from an individual’s estate upon his or her death. Additionally, as noted above, the proposed changes do not eliminate the income test, nor do they eliminate the look-back period. So if you have gifted in the past, penalties that prevent coverage still apply.  Finally, it is still uncertain whether the proposed changes will pass or whether they will remain in place with future administrations.  Please contact our team paralegal, Vanessa Garcia, at vgarcia@hollislaidlaw.com if you would like to schedule a consultation with one of our elder law attorneys to discuss how these changes may impact your estate plan.

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