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LTC Bullet:

Jane Bryant Quinn on Medicaid Planning

Monday September 13, 1999

Award-winning syndicated columnist Jane Bryant Quinn is interviewed by past-president of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorney's (NAELA), Rebecca Morgan, in the August 1999 issue of the NAELA News. To her credit, Morgan asks Quinn a question about Medicaid planning -- knowing that Quinn is very much opposed to this practice of artificially impoverishing seniors to qualify them for Medicaid's long-term care benefits.

The Center for Long-Term Care Financing has long argued that the ability of almost anyone to access Medicaid after the insurable event occurs is the single biggest threat to the long-term care insurance industry. Why confront the supposed risk of catastrophic long-term care costs and pay premiums when taxpayers will pick up your tab should you ever need care?

The following two Q/A exchanges from the Jane Bryant Quinn interview address the subject of Medicaid planning.

Q: (Morgan) "You know some of our members do Medicaid planning for their clients and I know you have written on the issue of Medicaid planning and transfers. Do you see a case where Medicaid planning would be appropriate?"

A: (Quinn) "I think that there is a legitimate concern, where there's a spouse at home. However, there are already many protections for the spouse at home, which need to be examined before you do Medicaid planning. I also think that if planning is done to protect the spouse at home, and the other spouse does indeed go into a nursing home, it would be proper for states to recover the Medicaid money from the estate, when the second spouse dies. I believe very strongly that people ought to pay for themselves, instead of pushing the bill onto the taxpayers. I think it's shocking that people with money still want the public to pay."

* * * *

Q: (Morgan) "Some have suggested that if we are going to change Medicare we ought to add a part D for long-term care. Do you think people would be willing to accept more taxes for health care?"

A: (Quinn) "I think we need to consider taxes for the basic medical system before we even begin to think about long-term care. To me, long-term care is something people need to save for or cover with personal insurance. You save money all your life to take care of yourself in your old age. Well, long-term care is taking care of yourself in your old age. I think that should still be a private responsibility, unless you truly have no money. I strongly support the Medicaid program. I just don't support people going on Medicaid artificially."

Why might Jane Bryant Quinn feel so strongly about Medicaid planning? Stay tuned. Tomorrow's LTC Bullet features transcribed excerpts from the most recent National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) conference. The excerpts quote a speaker instructing her colleagues on how to take advantage of a little-known exemption to shelter an unlimited amount of a client's money in order to qualify him or her for Medicaid. Apparently, Quinn's message is not particularly welcome among the Medicaid planning bar.