Bullet: LTC Doubletalk
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
LTC Comment: Medicaid
planners and their academic and media enablers are talking out of both sides of
their mouths: asset transfers are
rare but preventing them will devastate seniors.
Say, what? Details after the
*** LTC COUNTDOWN: 8
days and counting to the big vote on budget reconciliation scheduled for
Wednesday, February 1 in the House of Representatives.
Go to "Write Your Representative" at http://www.house.gov/writerep/
and urge your Member of Congress to vote YES on the budget
reconciliation/deficit reduction bill. That's
a vote against Medicaid planning abuse and in favor of responsible long-term
care planning. ***
*** CENTER MEMBER URGES YES VOTE on budget bill.
Here's a cc of an email message to a member of Congress that we received
vote YES for the upcoming budget reconciliation bill! Save welfare for the truly needy! The Budget bill encouraging people to plan and save and buy
long term care Partnership policies is a good one.
Currently welfare planning is everywhere. I just got off the phone with a baby boomer who said, 'We
just put Aunt X in a nursing home in Ohio after 'getting rid of' her money.
We can do that, too! We
don't need to buy long term care insurance.'
(This couple owns two movie theaters.)
Great! How are my kids going
to pay for this guy and 77 million others who are relying on an under-funded
failing Medicaid program? If more
people see the teeth of welfare recovery and the benefits of tax deductions and
asset protection with Partnership LTC insurance, we can turn this future around.
Please vote YES for the upcoming budget reconciliation bill!
thanks to Center for Long-Term Care Reform member Barbara Hanson for taking this
action. What will you do to
enlighten members of Congress and the media? ***
THE CENTER FOR LONG-TERM CARE REFORM doesn't have a foundation sugar daddy or
easy money from the government. If
you value our fight for rational long-term care reform, please join and help.
To become a member, go to http://www.centerltc.com/support/index.htm
and/or contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We'll keep you up-to-the-minute day-by-day on developments in this
edge-of-the-seat political thriller. Think
of it as "LTC-24." ***
LTC BULLET: LTC
LTC Comment: Lately,
the media has been full of warnings from Medicaid planners.
Don't wait! Medicaid reform
is coming! Grab yours now before
it's too late! Transfer your assets
before that mean, nasty Congress closes the loopholes.
Here are some examples:
According to Rachel Silverman writing in today's Wall
Street Journal ("Limits
Loom on Nursing-Home Aid: Advisers
Urge Elderly Clients To Act Before Rules Tighten Eligibility for Medicaid,"
January 24, 2006, p. D2, http://online.wsj.com/article_print/SB113806686717654248.html,
subscription required for online access):
proposed new rules expected to take effect next month that would toughen
eligibility for Medicaid-funded nursing-home stays, lawyers and financial
advisers are urging elderly clients to make plans now that might increase their
chances of being eligible for government aid. . . . Advisers have been scurrying to alert their clients
about the proposed new rules and are encouraging seniors to make plans now
before the legislation is likely to become law."
are these legal opportunists urging their clients to jump on the government
gravy train before it's derailed? Sleazy
shysters, bottom feeders at the government trough? Heavens no. The
lawyers cited in the article are at the peak of their profession, leaders in the
National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA).
Krooks, an elder-law attorney in New York, has written letters to his clients
warning them of the expected changes. 'Transfers
made before the law is enacted will not be subject to the new penalty-period
rules and other new provisions,' Mr. Krooks's letter says.
His firm has lengthened its hours to accommodate an increase in
Bernie Krooks is a former president of NAELA.
I sat side-by-side with him as we testified April 27, 2005 before the
House Energy and Commerce Committee.
At that time, he promised members of that key committee, a
Congressional committee that is charged with preserving Medicaid for the truly
needy, that asset transfers are no big deal and should not be curtailed.
Check it out at http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=109_house_hearings&docid=f:20749.pdf.
Page 115 for Krooks' testimony; page 111 for mine.
Here's a quote from Krooks' testimony:
"Clients donít come to me seeking Medicaid.
That is a myth." (p. 116) Now
he's making hay while the sun still shines and the Medicaid loopholes remain
open. If Medicaid planning is a myth, it has obviously been a very
Another example: "Vincent
J. Russo, an elder-law attorney in Westbury, N.Y., has been giving a series of
seminars on the rule changes."
Vinnie Russo is also a past president of NAELA.
I debated him at the Cato Institute on September 7, 2005.
View our debate about Medicaid estate planning at http://www.cato.org/event.php?eventid=2307.
In our debate, Russo insisted Medicaid planning is no big
deal. Now he appears to be
squeezing every dime out of unwitting clients and taxpayers before the practice
of artificially impoverishing affluent clients becomes harder to do.
Finally, the WSJ article mentions "Michael
Gilfix, a Palo Alto, Calif., elder-law attorney."
Gilfix is a founding member of NAELA and a big-time Medicaid planner in
the lucrative Northern California Medi-Cal market.
I've debated Gilfix publicly several times over the years.
We once appeared on opposite sides of the issue in a PBS special.
According to the WSJ article, he's helping a client
shelter a home from the (hopefully) forthcoming $500,000 limit on Medicaid's
home equity exemption. What do you
suppose a home in Palo Alto, near Silicon Valley and Stanford University, is
worth after 30 years of appreciation? Should
that home equity be used for long-term care or should Medicaid go on protecting
it for prosperous homeowners?
Think maybe divesting or sheltering that kind of wealth has
been a profitable business that Medicaid planners have fought to preserve?
The Medicaid planners' doubletalk about Medicaid and
long-term care doesn't come exclusively from affluent lawyers taking advantage
of the welfare program. They would
be run out of town on a rail if they didn't have help from enablers in richly
endowed foundations and from the media.
Think about all the "studies" produced by the
Kaiser Family Foundation intended to show that old people have no wealth to
protect from Medicaid spend down and that asset transfers are uncommon and
small. You'll find several examples
If all the elderly are poor and asset transfers are
insignificant, why are the Medicaid planners fighting to preserve the status
quo? Why are AARP and big charities
running expensive ad campaigns to prevent Medicaid reform?
The truth is that older American's are the richest
demographic cohort in this country. Preserving
their wealth by taking advantage of Medicaid is lucrative for the planners who
do it, for their financially well-off clients, and for the big trade and
advocacy organizations who represent them.
But that's not to say all older Americans are rich.
Many are poor. And they are the people we should save Medicaid for as a
long-term care safety net by prying it out of the grasping hands of Medicaid
abusers. That's why passage of the
budget reconciliation bill is so critical.
The greed and narrow self-interest of Medicaid planners and
their foundation-supported cheering section would wither in the light of
objective analysis and media exposure. Unfortunately,
the Medicaid planners have seduced many analysts and reporters who should and
would criticize Medicaid planning severely if they understood what is at stake.
Just think of all the media stories you've read that spout
the party line: don't reform
Medicaid long-term care. Watch for
those stories and when you find them, email the reporters and send them to the
"Moses LTC Blog" for the truth. Forward
our LTC E-Alerts and LTC Bullets to them and urge them to contact me for
"the rest of the story."
Stay tuned as we approach the exciting climax of this story
on February 1.