New York State recently enacted a new law regarding the Community Medicaid program that will make it much harder for individuals to qualify for this important benefit. Not everyone is familiar with the Community Medicaid program, but this program covers the cost of services needed to allow a person to safely remain at home, when they otherwise might need care in a nursing home. The Community Medicaid program also covers many medical expenses, such as doctor visits and prescription drugs. Like the Medicaid program that pays for a nursing home, there are limits on how much income and assets a person may have and still qualify. However, while the Medicaid program that pays for a nursing home has a five year lookback period for asset transfers, the Community Medicaid program has had no lookback period, meaning that a person or couple could transfer assets one month and be eligible for Community Medicaid benefits the first day of the following month.
The new law imposes a new, 30 month (2 ½ years) lookback period for Community Medicaid applications, which will render the program essentially unavailable for many people. In addition, the new law imposes stricter eligibility requirements to enroll in the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP) and Personal Cares Services (PCS). However, the new law does not take effect until October 1, 2020. That means there still is time to implement planning and qualify for Community Medicaid. But that does not mean we can wait until September to apply and avoid the impact of the new law; the planning and qualification process take time, and so it is imperative for anyone wanting to potentially take advantage of this program in the future to begin their planning as soon as possible. Call or email us if you have questions about the Community Medicaid program and whether this planning is appropriate for you.