LTC Bullet:  Texas Gerontologist Whips Medicaid Planner in TV Debate

Tuesday, May 2, 2006 


LTC Comment:  Texas gerontologist and Center for Long-Term Care Reform member Harold Willis trounced Dallas Medicaid planner Michael Cohen in a televised debate.  Details and a link to watch online after the ***news.*** 

*** MEDICARE AND SOCIAL SECURITY SINK DEEPER.  According to the New York Times this morning "Medicare's hospital insurance trust fund, a widely watched gauge of the program's solvency, will run out of money in 2018, two years earlier than projected in last year's report, the [program's] trustees said.  And the Social Security trust fund will be exhausted in 2040, one year earlier than projected last year, the trustees said.  At that point, in 2040, Social Security tax collections would be adequate to pay only 74 percent of scheduled benefits." (  

That's bad enough, but there is a much more immediate problem.  The "money" that Medicare will "run out of" in 2018 and Social Security in 2040 consists of IOUs in the programs' "trust funds."  That money has already been spent and will have to be pulled from taxpayers' pockets a second time to sustain the two programs until their official dates of insolvency, potentially devastating the economy.  In a nutshell, "'The systems are going broke,' President Bush said Monday in a speech to the American Hospital Association." 

The handwriting is on the wall for pay-as-you-go social insurance programs.  Savvy advice is to save, invest, and insure privately for any and all retirement, health and long-term care risks.  Don't count on the traditional government support system to be there for you in the future. *** 

*** DREAM JOB?  The Cato Institute seeks a research assistant to support its health policy work.  Responsibilities include researching and summarizing information (including quantitative data), drafting memos, editing upcoming reports, preparing a periodic e-newsletter, maintaining contact lists, planning policy events, marketing the department's books and reports, and a variety of other tasks.  Attention to detail, ability to multi-task a must.  A successful candidate will possess outstanding research and writing skills, a familiarity with current issues in health policy, and a commitment to free markets and individual liberty.  Experience with Nexis, Factiva, basic HTML a plus.  Candidates should send a cover letter, résumé, and a 700-word, unedited writing sample on a current health policy issue to Michael Cannon, Director of Health Policy Studies, Email:  *** 

*** MORE MOSES BYLINES.  Read the interview "60 Seconds with . . . Stephen Moses, President, Center for LTC Reform" in the May 2006 issue of McKnight's Long-Term Care News at[tt_news]=2894.  

Excerpt:  "Q: You say providers may wrongly be fearful of Medicaid-eligibility restrictions Congress passed earlier this year, such as increasing the look-back period. Why?  A: We've eliminated the biggest reason people transfer assets:  to reduce the penalty by half.  All these thousands of attorneys and planners have been recommending this 'half a loaf' transfer practice.  They can't anymore, or they'll be eligible for malpractice.  Nursing homes should be publicizing the rule.  This is absolutely a good thing." 

Read "It's Time to End Welfare for the Well-to-Do," The Kansas City Kansan, April 26, 2006,,com_docman/Itemid,/task,doc_download/gid,287/.  Our thanks to the Flint Hills Center for Public Policy in Wichita, Kansas for shopping this op-ed and for notifying us of its publication.  According to its website at  "The Flint Hills Center for Public Policy, dedicated to the constitutional principles of limited government, open markets, and individual freedom and responsibility, serves as an independent, source of information regarding public policy."  Check it out. *** 



LTC Comment:  Want to feel good all day long?  Click this link,93.html and watch "Medicaid Fraud:  Fact or Fiction?"  It is a three-part, roughly-thirty-minutes-in-total televised debate between . . . 

Harold Willis, Staff Gerontologist for Superior Senior Care in Dallas, Texas, who is an advocate of responsible long-term care planning and a member in good standing of the Center for Long-Term Care Reform


Michael Cohen, a Medicaid planning attorney in Dallas who is president of the Texas Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. 

Watch and hear Willis and Cohen square off under the able questioning of moderator Dennis McCuistion.  

You have to see this program to believe it.  I predict most readers of these LTC Bullets will cheer through most of the program.  So let's let the interlocutors speak for themselves. 

I'll just pass on the following quotes from Medicaid planner Michael Cohen's website to give you a little better insight into what he does for a living than you're likely to discern from his sanitized remarks on TV for more public consumption.  Note the frequent references to methods of artificial impoverishment for the purpose of qualifying clients for Medicaid without the clients or their families having to spend money for their own care. 

The following excerpts are from Mr. Cohen's of 4:15 PM PDT on May 1, 2006.  I cite the precise time of downloading this material because Medicaid planners often cover their tracks by removing such material after it has been publicized in LTC Bullets and on the LTC Blog

"Michael B. Cohen, Attorney and Counselor at Law, located in Dallas, Texas, concentrates in elder law with a particular emphasis on obtaining and/or retaining public benefits (especially medicaid) for the elderly and disabled.   

"In the practice of elder law and estate planning, we often see people in a medical, financial and emotional crisis.  It is common that a family member has a chronic or an extended illness or disability resulting from a stroke, Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease, or other illness resulting in a need for long term care, which jeopardizes the financial security that the family has worked all of their lives to obtain.  It is our goal to lift that financial burden from the shoulders of our clients - often by helping them plan to either obtain and/or keep public benefits such as medicaid planning. . . .   

"Sometimes this requires the discussion of the use of trusts (such as Miller Trusts/Qualified Income Trust, Supplemental/Special Needs Trusts, etc.), transfers of both income and resources, changing the nature of resources or just simply keeping resources in the exact same condition but simply increasing the amount of resources that otherwise could be protected for public benefits." 

"Counties Served: Dallas County, Collin County, Rockwall County, Kaufman County, Denton County, Tarrant County, Hunt County, Van Zant County, Navarro County, Ellis County, Johnson County 

"Cities Served: Dallas, Fort Worth, Plano, Mesquite, Garland, Irving, Desoto, Duncanville, Rockwall, Carrollton, Coppell, Arlington, Bedford, Hurst, Flower Mound, Lewisville, Terrell, Corsicana, Richardson, McKinney, Allen, Seagoville, Midlothian, Grand Prairie" 

"On February 22, 2005, Michael B. Cohen will be speaking to Texas Instruments retirees on long-term Medicaid planning." 

As of the date and time of this downloading, the "frequently asked questions" link on Mr. Cohen's website contained outdated and/or inaccurate information.  For example: 

Cohen:  "As of January 1, 2005, the income cap for year 2005 will be $1737 per month."   

CORRECTION:  The "income cap" starting January 1, 2006 is $1809. 

Cohen:  "If the income of the community spouse is greater than what is called the minimum monthly maintenance needs allowance ($2319 per month in year 2004 and $2377.50 as of January 1, 2005), then there are limited situations when a court order can be obtained to divert income from his or her institutionalized spouse so that his or her income is above the MMMNA."   

CORRECTION:  The comparable monthly maintenance needs allowance effective January 1, 2006 is $2488.50. 

Cohen:  "There is presently a 3-year look back period on most gifts (5 years on many trusts)."   

CORRECTION:  Effective with enactment of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, the look back period for all transfers is five years." 

Cohen:  "Q: Can the community spouse keep several hundred thousand dollars and still get Medicaid eligibility for her husband without having to change the nature of her resources?
A: Depending on the income of the community spouse and other factors, often the answer is 'Yes'."   

CORRECTION:  The DRA of 2005 eliminated this option by prohibiting the "transfer assets before income" Medicaid planning gimmick.