LTC Bullet:  Opponents of Medicaid Reform Advocate Reverse Robin Hood Policies 

Friday, January 20, 2006 

Seattle-- 

LTC Comment:  Profiteers on the status quo are mobilizing to stop Medicaid reform.  Fight back!  Details after the ***news.*** 

*** 12 DAYS AND COUNTING to the big vote on Medicaid reform in the House of Representatives.  Read today's Bullet and contact your member of Congress daily to support the deficit reduction, budget reconciliation bill. 

*** PAR FOR THE COURSE.  In keeping with the theme of today's LTC Bullet that the affluent often rip off programs intended to benefit the poor, here's another example: 

"The World Bank studied the results of programs meant to help the poor and found that even programs designed to reach poor people often end up instead helping the better-off.   

According to the researchers: 

o  In almost all of the more than 20 countries surveyed, the richest 20 percent of the population received more, or as much of, the government's subsidized maternal and child health care services as the poorest 20 percent.  

o  Studies of Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Madagascar, South Africa and Tanzania all have shown that government spending on health favors upper-income groups." 

Source:  National Center for Policy Analysis Daily Policy Digest, Friday, January 20, 2006, http://www.ncpa.org  

Now read today's LTC Bullet for examples of this kind of "reverse Robin Hood" public policy that are much too close to home.  *** 

 

LTC BULLET:  OPPONENTS OF MEDICAID REFORM ADVOCATE REVERSE ROBIN HOOD POLICIES 

LTC Comment:  Opposition to the budget reconciliation bill is mounting.  If re-passed by the House of Representatives in a form identical to the version passed by the Senate last month, this legislation will undercut Medicaid planning abuse and unleash the LTC Partnership program.  

That would be a marvelous outcome because it gives Medicaid LTC benefits back to the people who really need them and encourages others to save, invest and insure for long-term care so they're part of the solution to America's LTC crisis, instead of remaining the problem itself. 

But people and organizations who profit from the existing corrupt system, which perversely rewards failure to plan for long-term care, strongly oppose reform.  They are often backed by big bucks from foundations, government grants, and nonprofit tax status.  Or, worse yet, they profit by diverting Medicaid benefits directly to affluent clients for a profit.  

Here are some examples of their arguments and tactics that we've discovered in the past few days.  Thanks to Center for Long-Term Care Reform members who have brought these coordinated attacks to our attention.  Keep 'em coming to info@centerltc.com. 

A group called "Independent Sector" says on its website at http://www.independentsector.org/programs/gr/medicaidchange.html "Spending Reconciliation Bill Threatens Older Americans Who Make Charitable Donations."  What is this organization and why do they oppose Medicaid reform?  Their website says "Independent Sector is the leadership forum for charities, foundations, and corporate giving programs committed to advancing the common good in America and around the world."  So, why do they urge their members to oppose the reconciliation bill and provide an email link to Congress in order to do so?  They want to preserve the current system which encourages affluent seniors to impoverish themselves in order to qualify for Medicaid by giving away all their money to the organization's member charities.  In essence, they steal from the poor who are dependent on Medicaid to reward the rich for giving away wealth they should be using to pay for their own long-term care. 

For our response to these specious arguments from charities seeking to benefit at the expense of Medicaid, see "LTC Bullet:  On Asset Transfers, Charitable Giving and Nursing Homes," Tuesday, January 10, 2006 either on the Moses LTC Blog at www.centerltc.com or at http://www.centerltc.com/members/ltcbullets/index.htm (Center members with password access only.) 

Here's another example.  ACTNow is an ad hoc organization thrown together to oppose the budget reconciliation bill.  It is running TV ads in the districts of vulnerable moderate Democrats and Republicans urging voters to prevail on their Members of Congress to vote down Medicaid reform.  A sample follows.  Check it out at http://www.actnow.org/video/simmons_wmp_medium.php

A voice-over announcer tells viewers:  "Your member of Congress, [insert name], recently voted to make seniors pay more for their health care, and [his or her vote] to cut health care will deny nursing home care to thousands.  Congress[man or woman] [name] needs to get [his or her] priorities straight:  Cutting health care to give extra tax breaks to millionaires is just plain wrong.  Tell [name of member] it's wrong to cut health care to [name of state] seniors to give tax breaks to millionaires."   

How preposterous!  The budget reconciliation bill does exactly the opposite.  It discourages abuse of Medicaid by the well-to-do in order to preserve the welfare program's scarce resources for people genuinely in need. 

A spokesperson for one member of Congress victimized by these unfounded attacks responded thus:   

"The truth is, these Medicaid reforms, which were endorsed by all 50 governors, including all 22 Democratic governors, as well as by the Hartford Courant and the New York Times, will not deny nursing home care to a single senior.  These reforms give states greater flexibility and target care for those most in need." 

In the meantime, in the midst of all this misleading political hullabaloo, some private for-profit elder law firms are fighting Medicaid reform in their own self-interest.  They seek to make hay while the sun shines with a fire sale on Medicaid asset transfers.  Here's a quote from a "Margolis and Associates" newsletter dated January 16, 2006. 

"With the new Medicaid transfer rules slated to be voted into law as early as February 1st, these last two weeks of January offer a window of opportunity for long-term care planning.  Anyone in a nursing home or facing the prospect of nursing home care can still do so-called 'half-a-loaf' planning.  Anyone doing advance planning to protect a home or other large assets can do so this month under the three- year look-back period.  If they wait until February, they will most likely be subject to the five-year look-back period." 

Translation:  "Last chance to grab your ailing parents' savings and put them in a nursing home on welfare."  What a way to make a living! 

In the meantime, while all this disgraceful self-dealing is going on, where's the outrage?  Where else besides here do you get the truth?  Who else besides the Center for Long-Term Care Reform is waging this fight? 

If you think Medicaid should be saved for the poor and affluent Americans should insure for long-term care instead of divesting their wealth to qualify for welfare-financed LTC, then let your voice be heard.   

Find your member of the House of Representatives at http://www.house.gov/.  Then call, write and email him or her in support of the budget reconciliation, deficit reduction bill. 

And if you value the work we're doing, please join the Center for Long-Term Care Reform.  Go to http://www.centerltc.com/support/index.htm or contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com .  Thanks for your support.