State Officials Say Loopholes Allow Seniors To Shift Assets To Qualify for Medi-Cal Benefits
State legislators have said they will "crack down" on an increasing number of California residents who are shifting assets to qualify for state-funded nursing home care, the Sacramento Bee reports. A "cottage industry" of lawyers is advising seniors whose incomes and assets exceed Medi-Cal eligibility limits benefits on how to qualify for Medi-Cal nursing home coverage, according to the Bee (Teichert, Sacramento Bee, 5/1). Stan Rosenstein, deputy director of medical services for Medi-Cal, said that he cannot "pinpoint the number of senior citizens giving away their assets to qualify" but added that nursing home fees paid by the state have increased by 50% in the last 10 years. According to Rosenstein, the cost to taxpayers increased this year to $3.4 billion from $2.2 billion in 1994 (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 5/1). Officials for the California Association of Homes and Services for the Aging estimate that providing nursing home care to seniors who are shifting assets costs the state as much as $150 million a year. "We have tried to tighten all the loopholes we are aware of that can be tightened under federal law," Rosenstein said. He added, "There are some loopholes in the federal law that we can't touch" (Halper, Los Angeles Times, 5/2).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.