LTC Bullet: NYT Asks Medicaid Planner to Advise on LTCI

Friday, July 18, 2008

Lido Beach, New York (LTC Tour Mile 14,345; State #24)--

LTC Comment: The New York Times added insult to injury by inviting a notorious Medicaid planner to advise readers on private long-term care insurance. Details follow the ***news.***

*** TODAY'S LTC BULLET sends to our broadest readership, not just dues-paying Center members, in the hope that more of you will communicate (respectfully and professionally, please) with the New York Times about today's subject. ***

*** READ ABOUT THE LTC TOUR, Steve Moses's whirlwind, year-long, cross-country trek in the Silver Bullet of Long-Term Care to wake up Americans to the danger of Medicaid planning and the need to plan responsibly for long-term care. Check out these links:

* Press Release at

* Pictures of the Silver Bullet at and at

* The LTC Tour Calendar at

* Testimonials about Steve Moses's LTC Tour presentations at

* Corporate LTC Tour sponsorships at

* Single-day, local LTC Tour sponsorships for "Regional Representatives" at ***



LTC Comment: The New York Times is no friend of private long-term care insurance. The "gray lady" sucker punched LTCI with a front-page attack on the opening day of the industry's national conference in 2007 ("Aged, Frail and Denied Care by Their Insurers," 3/26/7,,%20March%202007&st=cse). See our reply to this low blow at "LTC Bullet: Sucker Punched in Dallas," Tuesday, April 10, 2007,

But now America's "newspaper of record" has stooped even lower. In a recently begun "blog" about issues affecting the elderly, reporter Jane Gross invited Medicaid planner Vincent Russo to answer readers' questions about long-term care insurance. Check out the daily "web log" titled "The New Old Age" at Scroll down to read the July 15, 2008 entry titled "Readers' Questions: Long-Term Care Insurance." Here's what you'll find:

"I'm struck by how many of you have asked here about long-term care insurance. When should one consider buying it? What should the policy cover? How do you make sure the insurer will be around when you need the coverage? It is, as I said last week, a swamp. [See the blog entry for July 7, 2008 titled "What I Wish I'd Done Differently," for the reporter's personal experience with LTCI.]

"Vincent J. Russo, an attorney specializing in financial issues and the elderly, including Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement, has agreed to answer a few questions submitted by readers about insurance and long-term care."

First, the good news. As of this morning, not a single question or comment had been addressed to Mr. Russo.

Now the bad news. Vincent Russo makes his living as a Medicaid planning attorney with four offices near New York City. He artificially impoverishes affluent clients to qualify them for public-welfare-financed long-term care. I debated Mr. Russo at a Cato Institute symposium in 2005 titled "Medicaid and the Long-Term Care Crisis: Who Should Pay?" You can watch and listen to that debate online at

Jane Gross's blog refers her readers to Russo's company website at where you can read the following:

"Medicaid planning is the legal process of arranging your property so that your assets go to your family (or other people or organizations that are important to you), rather than to pay the nursing home bills that Medicaid is set up to cover. The best time to do Medicaid planning is well before entering the nursing home, when time is on your side and choices abound...but it's never too late to plan."

"It is almost never too late to protect some of your hard-earned money for your family or favorite charity. Even if you are already in a nursing home, we can usually help. One of the most common misconceptions of Medicaid planning is that it must be done well in advance of going to the nursing home."

"There are several important areas where New York Medicaid eligibility is very different than other states. For example, assets such as IRAs and qualified pension plans and life estates have been treated much more favorably in New York than in some other states.

"There are several Medicaid planning techniques that can work for you in New York, but the results can vary county by county. Because Medicaid rules vary from state-to-state, it is important to work with a Medicaid lawyer who is very familiar with the workings of Medicaid in the state where you will receive Medicaid."

"In order to protect against nursing home costs, a trust must be properly drafted, and must be an irrevocable trust. . . . As one of the leading law firms in the country in the practice of Medicaid planning, we often help undo the damage done by plans that were made to protect assets, but failed to do so."

"Most people want to live in their own home as long as possible. There is Medicaid planning that can be implemented to access Medicaid home care services in New York. In addition, there are legal techniques such as life estate and caregiver agreements that can help accomplish this goal, while making the Medicaid application process easier and quicker, if nursing home care is ever needed in the future. Even if you don't ever expect to receive nursing home care, it's important that you understand how Medicaid works and seek professional advice. You can be penalized in the future for decisions that you make with the best of intentions today."

"Many New York families, who are already snowbirds or plan on becoming snowbirds, take great comfort that the law firm of Vincent J. Russo is admitted to practice law in both New York and Florida. Imagine the peace of mind of knowing you can use the same law firm with whom you have built a relationship, whether your time of need happens when you are in New York or in Florida! Further, Vincent J. Russo & Associates, P.C. has created relationships with experienced elder law attorneys around the country, if you are in need of an elder law attorney outside of New York."

LTC Comment: So, what do you think? Is it fair to ask a Medicaid planner to answer readers' questions about long-term care insurance? For balance, shouldn't Jane Gross invite an expert on long-term care insurance to answer questions about Medicaid planning? I'm going to ask her to do exactly that. I hope you will too. But, as always, please keep your comments respectful and professional.

Afterword: Vinnie Russo is a nice fellow. I've known him since the early 1990s when I started attending the annual conferences of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, over which he later presided as President one year. I like Mr. Russo personally and admire his work on behalf of the developmentally disabled. Nevertheless, we agree to disagree vehemently, but respectfully on issues of long-term care financing policy.