Monthly Archives: January 2017

New Year’s Predictions – Elders look out!

New Years predictions are always popular around the first of the year. It’s a game we like to play: make a prediction and see how wrong we turn out to be! After the presidential election we can make one prediction with certainty: anybody claims to knows what will happen will be proven wrong.


There are clear signs of what is coming and what that means for elders. The old saying “There is nothing new under the sun” applies here.  President (elect at this time) Trump promises to get the American economy booming again. His proposals have been heard, and implemented, many times before.  He promises to cut taxes on business and cut regulations.  These things have predictable consequences for elders who rely not on jobs, but on government programs.  There will be less money for programs and more costs imposed on program users.

My predictions then are: Medicare recipients will see higher premiums for Medicare B and higher monthly premiums on prescription plans. Recipients will pay more in copays and deductibles.  Medicaid will see more government, both federal and state, regulation resulting in families keeping less property.  Asset sheltering options will become harder to get.  Medicaid estate recovery after the death of the Medicaid recipient will get more aggressive.  More family homes will be lost to the government.  In the tax area elders may see less tax deductions and credits.  Just last year in Michigan many elders lost their valuable homestead property tax credit.  In short I am predicting there will be winners and losers.  Elders will fall into the losers camp.

None of the above has to come true.  If elders and their families are vigilant, if they stay in contact with their senators and representatives these things will not come true.  And even if they do in spite of our advocacy then we’ll throw the bums out in the next election!

A final note.  Don’t misunderstand what I mean elder advocacy.  In times of need, elders know what shared sacrifice means.  Just ask the “Greatest Generation” about sacrificing. But I don’t see the need for elders to sacrifice.  After all when it comes to tax cuts for businesses and for the millionaire and billionaire business owners/CEOs, there will be no sacrifice. Just big tax cuts.

Be vigilant, informed and “make a lot of noise”!


The Government Wants Your House (Medicaid Estate Recovery Update)

Sorry about the yellow journalism headline, but that’s the way it’s going these days. Driven by that lovable low-tax fever,   Michigan is aggressively pursuing homes of deceased nursing home Medicaid recipients.  Actually they want you to sell it and give them the cash. Yes, it is true even though you paid your taxes and committed no crime you can lose your home to the Government if you suffer long term care paid for by Medicaid.

(Stepping off soap box)

The legal news is that the in January the Michigan Supreme Court is hearing a case on the subject of Medicaid estate recovery. It is Department of Health and Human Services v. Rasmer,  et al.  The state is pursuing an aggressive, expansive agenda claiming that it has the unreviewable power to collect against a recipient’s estate even when it never told the recipients it would go after their homes.  The court should rule later this year on whether the Republican Government’s power is reviewable by a court. It should also rule on what kind of notice it must give to potential  Medicaid recipients.

This case is a continuation of the government’s aggressive push to get money from seniors.  For example, the estate recovery statute is supposed to exempt as a hardship a home of modest value.  Last year a case called  Ketchum was decided in the Court of Appeals.  In Ketchum the state went after a home that sold for $30,000!  That is a modest home by any standard, but not according to our government. Lansing wanted the money and got it.

Moral: When it comes to nursing home Medicaid remember there are two critical components to get legal advice on: 1  spend down for initial eligibility; 2. after death “estate recovery.”  With good advice you can avoid the horror stories of Medicaid.