Monday, December 19, 2005

House Approves Compromise Budget Bill That Limits on Asset Transfers

Category: Elder Law,


House Approves Compromise Budget Bill That Retains Major New Limits on Asset Transfers

Last Updated: 12/19/2005
Topic: Medicaid

At the close of a rare overnight session, House of Representatives voted 212-206 early this morning to cut $39.7 billion from federal spending. The bill places major new restrictions on the ability of the elderly to transfer assets before qualifying for Medicaid coverage of nursing home care. The bill, a compromise between House and Senate budget bills hammered out by Republican leaders, now must be approved by the Senate, an action that could come quickly as lawmakers rush to leave town for the holidays.

The bill retains changes in the transfer rules that were part of the earlier House bill. It would extend Medicaid's "lookback" period for all asset transfers from three to five years and change the start of the penalty period for transferred assets from the date of transfer to "the date on which the individual is eligible for medical assistance under the State plan and is receiving services . . . but for the application of the penalty period, whichever is later. . . ". The bill also would make any individual with home equity above $750,000 ineligible for Medicaid nursing home care.

The House bill would also:

  • Establish new rules for the treatment of annuities, including a requirement that the state be named as the remainder beneficiary.
  • Require Medicaid applicants to provide "full information . . . concerning any transaction involving the transfer or disposal of assets during the previous period of 60 months, if the transaction exceeded $100,000, without regard to whether the transfer or disposal was for fair market value."
  • Allow Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) to require residents to spend down their declared resources before applying for medical assistance.
  • Set forth rules under which an individual's CCRC entrance fee is considered an available resource.
  • Extend long-term care partnership programs to any state.

Kirsten Sloan, chief health lobbyist for AARP, said, "AARP strongly opposes the current conference agreement. This is irresponsible policy and will harm millions of low-income Medicaid beneficiaries, millions of older persons who need long-term care and unfairly increases Part B premiums for all Medicare beneficiaries."

For the full text of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, click on: Click on the third version of the bill listed, then scroll down to Title III, Chapter 2, for the asset transfer rule changes.

For a Reuters article on House passage of the budget bill, click here.

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