LTC Bullet: NY's Highest
Court Rebuffs Aggressive Medicaid Planning
Wednesday June 10, 1998
The New York State Court of Appeals (New York's highest court)
has spoken on the exploitation of Medicaid to finance long-term
care for non-poor persons.
The court recently ruled that income must be considered first
(before resources) when seeking to bring a Medicaid applicant
spouse's Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance (MMMNA) up
to the minimum amount.
The ruling prevents excessive and unnecessary asset transfers
where protecting the community spouse can be accomplished with
transfers of income. The court's message of personal responsibility
for long-term care leaves no doubt that, at least for this court,
Medicaid is not an
inheritance protection program.
Below are excerpts from the court's decision in Golf v. New York
State Dept. of Social Services, 1998 WL 151293 (April 2, 1998):
"[T]he MCCA [Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act of 1988]
was enacted to ensure that the community spouse was provided with
an income above the poverty level.... It was not intended to offer
a financial boon for applicants or to provide a route upon which
one could bypass the obligation to contribute one's fair share
of the costs associated with nursing home care. An agency's transfer
of income, rather than resources, to the community spouse effectively
serves the dual goal of ensuring the community spouse would lie
[sic] comfortably and of protecting against the depletion of limited
Medicaid resources by individuals capable of helping themselves.
"[W]e are mindful that the policy of the law is to prevent
impoverishment of the community spouse; it is not to permit the
sheltering of personal wealth at public expense. To the extent
that the income-first method preserves the public fisc, clearly
such a result inures to the benefit of all New York senior citizens
in that additional resources are more readily available to meet
the needs of eligible applicants.
"We reiterate that while the spousal impoverishment provisions
serve to support those in medical need, they are not vehicles
for enriching the family of the applicant. That some means of
recoupment exist is no reason to create opportunities for sheltering