UPDATED April 16, 2020
If you or someone you know is on Medicaid (Nursing Home) or Special Assistance (Assisted Living Facility): READ THIS. This article has very important information about the effects of the $1,200 stimulus payments under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
In this update, I will explain why Medicaid and Special Assistance recipients have no immediate cause for alarm. I earlier raised concerns that have since been resolved. It’s been a fluid situation, to say the least. I will, however, continue to bring any issues I see to reader attention (with followup as they are hopefully resolved).
Soon stimulus checks under the recently passed CARES Act will be going out to Social Security recipients. That means that these folks will be receiving $1,200 in the same manner as their Social Security checks (direct deposit or paper check).
Great! But wait! If the Social Security recipient is also a Medicaid beneficiary (in a nursing home) or a Special Assistance recipient (in an assisted living facility), he or she has a $2,000 asset limit as of the last day of the month.
If Mom is in the nursing home and has $800 or less in her account, then there will be no problem. If Mom has more than that, the stimulus check could put her over the $2,000 limit unless something is done.
If Dad is home, then it may be as simple as Mom transferring the excess funds to Dad. But if Mom is a widow, it could be a different story.
If Mom is in a skilled nursing home and on Medicaid, this will NOT be a problem — at least for awhile.
If Mom is in an assisted living facility and on Special Assistance (it’s not Medicaid even though they call it that) it will not be a problem for a year.
I’ll explain each.
Medicaid in a Skilled Nursing Home
No problem — for now. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), signed by President Trump on March 18, 2020, increased the percentage of a state’s Medicaid expense that the feds normally kicked in by 6.2 extra percent (translation: That’s A LOT of money).
One of the requirements that a state has to meet, however, is that it will NOT terminate Medicaid benefits for anyone on Medicaid on or after March 18, 2020, and for so long as the Coronavirus Declared Emergency lasts.
On March 20, 2020, the NC Division of Health Benefits (the outfit that administers Medicaid in North Carolina) published Admin. Letter No. 01-20 that provides, among a number of interesting things, that pursuant to the FFCRA no one will have Medicaid benefits terminated for as long as the Declared Emergency lasts (Someone would have needed to have been on Medicaid on March 18 or thereafter).
I say, “no problem for now” — even if it puts Mom over $2,000 because she can’t be terminated. But, as we all do, I pray this medical Coronavirus Emergency will not last forever.
If you are a child caregiver or “business manager” for Mom, keep an eye on that checking account and have some plan for spending it down during the emergency period. In other words, come the end of April, 2020 . . . and probably for a month or two thereafter, DON’T PANIC.
Special Assistance in an Assisted Living Facility
As I have explained before, Special Assistance is NOT Medicaid. Special Assistance is based on rules for the Social Security Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.
I had been concerned that the $1,200 stimulus payment could pose potential problems for Mom if it puts her account over $2,000 on the end of the month.
Fortunately, the Commissioner of Social Security recently made the following announcement:
“We are working closely with Treasury to address outstanding questions about our SSI recipients in an attempt to make the issuance of economic impact payments as quick and efficient as possible. We realize people are concerned, and the IRS will provide additional information on their web page when available. Please note that we will not consider economic impact payments as income for SSI recipients, and the payments are excluded from resources for 12 months.”
So there you have it. Those $1,200 stimulus checks will have no impact on Medicaid nursing home residents for at least the duration of the emergency. Further, the checks will have no impact on Special Assistance assisted living facility residents for a year (remember, the Special Assistance rules track the SSI rules).
I hope this helps. Wash your hands.