LTC Bullet:  Medicaid's Greedy Henchmen

Thursday  May 17, 2001

Seattleó

Now and then, an LTC Bullet alerts you to an example of egregious Medicaid planning by summarizing a promotional flier or quoting a speaker at a Medicaid planning workshop, for example.  The Center for LTC Financing takes a very dim view of Medicaid planning because of the dangers to vulnerable clients and its corrosive effects on our LTC service and delivery system.  Moreover, the seductive message that you can wait, see if you ever need care, and get the government to pay, anesthetizes the public from taking seriously and planning early for the risk of expensive long-term care.

Last month, a concerned LTC Bullets subscriber forwarded to us an 8-page advertisement from Jay D. Kaiser, Senior Advisor, Inc. in Seattle, WA.  The flier, like many others we've seen, promotes his free Medicaid planning workshops.  It begins, "Warning!  To Seniors & Retirees:  Do You Have These 3 Legal Documents You Must Have to Protect Your Money From Medicaid's Greedy Henchmen?"   It ends with Mr. Kaiser's calming assurance that "We are members of the Better Business Bureau."  In between, the 8 pages of bad, misleading, and arguably illegal (Mr. Kaiser is not an attorney) advice is something you simply must see for yourself.  Selecting only a representative sample of Mr. Kaiser's scare tactics just doesn't capture the essence of his hard work.  Kaiser is definitely small-time, but he and others like him are arguably more dangerous than specialized and expensive Medicaid planners who at least practice their sophistry with high degree of skill.   

Go to www.centerltc.org/kaiser.pdf to see Mr. Kaiser's mailing and read on if you want to know what we witnessed at his seminar.  Too bad for Mr. Kaiser that he scares seniors in the backyard of the Center for Long-Term Care Financing.  It couldn't have been easier to participate and report back to Bullets subscribers.  If you thought it couldn't get worse after reading his mailing, wait!

The workshop we attended was filled with at least 150 seniors, mostly in their 70s and 80s.  There were a few adult children with their parents and a few others on their own.  During the 90-minute presentation, Mr. Kaiser guided his audience through the basic content of his mailing without too many additional specifics.  After all, the point of the gathering was to attract new clients.  He even said, "I make no bones about it.  I want to have all of you as clients."  Kaiser told the audience more than four times that his fee was a one-time flat $495.  For what exactly?  That wasn't clear.   Although he explained, "I charge for my advice because I don't believe in a free lunch."  The irony that he was selling free lunches, of course, was completely lost on him.

Kaiser told us that his goal was to help clients create a "What If" plan for themselves to counteract inflation, reduce taxes to the legal limit, and prevent impoverishment.   His "What If" plan has three parts:  the right legal documents, the right strategies to protect assets, and the right complementary financial tactics.  Recognizing that he isnít qualified to draft the necessary legal documents (e.g., he mentioned a durable power of attorney (DPOA) with gifting provisions), he assured the audience that he'd interviewed hundreds of attorneys and found four good ones he could recommend.  "The rest," he said, "should be flipping burgers at McDonalds."

Long-term care insurance (LTCI) came up a few times.  At the outset, Kaiser asked the audience if any of them owned LTCI.  Four or five raised their hands.  He explained to everyone else that "most people canít afford or qualify medically for long-term care insurance" and that "a lot us don't want to spend money on insurance we hope never to make a claim on."  Best of all, he reflected with a chuckle that "one of the biggest problems with long-term care insurance is that it's sold by insurance agents."  Never mind that Kaiser's resume (a handout at the workshop) lists his insurance agent credential and that he's licensed to teach continuing education (CE) classes to insurance agents in Washington State.  In fact, Kaiser told the audience that, based on his approval to teach these CE courses, they could "rest assured that today youíre going to get the information from the horse's mouth and not from the other end."  Really?

The most pathetic part of the program came when Kaiser invited a former client, Barney Welch, to come up on stage and tell his story of how Jay Kaiser saved him and his wife from financial ruin.  Barney, a retired Seattle Fire Department captain likely in his 80's, told how he and his wife were initially turned down for LTCI before his wife had her first stroke.  He then told the audience that Kay Kaiser (he kept referring to Jay as Kay) helped them get LTCI.  Huh?  That's right.  Long-term care insurance.  At that point, most everyone in the audience recognized that Barney was quite confused about exactly what, in fact, Jay did for him.  Over and over again, Barney thanked Kay for helping him get LTCI.  Now, Barney may have been nervous on stage in front of so many people.  Then again, he may not have understood at that moment, or even when it happened, that Jay helped Barney and his wife transfer assets to qualify her for Medicaid after the stroke.  (Kaiser clarified this after Barney finished speaking.)  There's a more insidious reason, however, why Barney Welch or any of Kaiser's clients may be confused about what Kaiser does for them.  When beginning his description of Medicaid's eligibility rules, Kaiser said, "Let me tell you, you all have long-term care insurance.  It's called Medicaid."

At the conclusion of the workshop, Kaiser invoked his mother's supposed advice that he should help his clients the way RONCO sells stuff on television.  For those unfamiliar with RONCO, it's that company with "infomercials" selling smokeless ashtrays, knives that slice through tin cans, and other similar gadgets for a fraction of their advertised value and usually with a free gift if you order before the infomercial ends.  So, just like RONCO, Kaiser offered to throw in tax preparation services at "NO ADDITIONAL COST".  (emphasis in the original)  But wait . . . there's more!  He said, "If you're ready to get started today, I'm going to give you $100 off.  It's now a $395 one-time fee which includes your tax preparation."  (Attendees who wanted a free 20-minute consultation before taking the plunge were offered a $50 coupon instead.)  But wait . . . there's more!  He said, "Folks who sign up now will be part of our 'Senior Advisor Club' and be part of our 'Board of Directors.'  We have dinner every six months and you can alert us to the scams you get in the mail."  Again, the irony was completely lost on him.

After Kaiser finished speaking, two lines began forming at the front of the room.  Thirty or so people were waiting to sign up for the free initial consultation and the $50 coupon.  Seven people lined up to pay their $395 to get started right away.  The first two people in that line were a father with his adult daughter who put her arm around him and said, "Are you feeling comfortable with this, I think we should do this."  Leaving the room, one could not ignore the sounds of checks being torn out of booklets or Kaiser's portable credit card machine making an imprint.

On his resume under the heading "Qualifications and Experience," Kaiser writes, "My goal is to help retirees protect their pensions, social security, homes, savings, and sanity from being taken simply because they don't know what to do or who to trust.  Education and knowledge as well as strategies and techniques are my tools.  I solve problems for my clients - and I like being the 'hero.'"  "Hero" would be the last descriptive word that comes to mind. 

Kaiser should be investigated by the Washington State Department of Insurance, Washington State Bar Association, and the Washington State Attorney Generalís Office.  The Attorney Generalís office may not be too helpful, however.  Why?  We recently received an invitation to attend, ďMedicaid Planning:  What Every Lawyer Should Know to Get Started,Ē sponsored by the University of Washington School of Law and the Washington Law School Foundation ďin recognition of National Elder Law Month.Ē  Where?  You guessed it.  The location for the program is the Washington State Attorney Generalís Training Center in downtown Seattle.  The invitation lists the program highlights as:  (1) Basic Medicaid eligibility rules; (2) The application process; (3) Medicaid programs for needs other than nursing homes; (4) How to get paid as an attorney or guardian for clients on Medicaid; and (5) How to appeal a Denial of Medicaid benefits.  No doubt the Attorney Generalís office rents a portion of its space for continuing education programs without evaluating the subject matter.  Nevertheless, itís outrageous that Attorney General Christine Gregoire is allowing her office to be used as a Medicaid planning training ground. 

Maybe Jay Kaiser will be there to get new content for his next mailing.