Thursday, June 30, 2005
Making Medicaid Meaner...
Congress is considering a crackdown on financial planning strategies increasingly favored by middle-class families to shift the cost of nursing home care for elderly parents onto the federal government.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) denounced the practices Wednesday as "legal shenanigans" and vowed to help stop maneuvers he said were turning Medicaid into an asset protection program, instead of what it was supposed to be — an insurer of last resort for elderly people too poor to afford care.
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Tightening the rules could save Medicaid $1 billion to $2 billion over five years, Grassley said, though Medicaid's long-term care bill is projected at $290 billion over the next five years.
But some policy experts say the answer is not to make it harder to get into Medicaid, but to recognize a need for a national long-term care program.
"Solutions that focus only on making Medicaid 'meaner' … do our nation a disservice," said Judith Feder, dean of the Georgetown Public Policy Institute, who was a senior official at the Department of Health and Human Services during the Clinton administration.
"The nation lacks a policy that assures people access to quality long-term care, when they need it, without risk of impoverishment," Feder said.