• 68°

Bill shouldn't curtail seniors' giving

By Staff
I have heard from many of you in the last couple of weeks who have been contacted with allegations that proposed changes to Medicaid will curtail seniors' donations to churches and charities, children and grandchildren, and every gift of an item for less than fair market value (FMV).
As a donor to my own church and various charities, I was alarmed by these allegations and have made every effort to advise the Budget Committee, on which I sit, and the Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over Medicaid, of the outpour of your and my concerns.
After much research and after several conversations and meetings with the Energy and Commerce Committee, I am confident, and have been assured, that no language in this upcoming bill will prohibit or prevent seniors from giving in the manner that they have in the past.
The reform provisions addressing Medicaid in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, S. 1932, are designed and intended to close loopholes through which wealthy seniors transfer sometimes enormous wealth and assets to children or grandchildren in an effort to prevent using that wealth to pay for their possible nursing home care.
Let me be clear. The manner by which Medicaid may review a senior's transfers for less than FMV will not change with S. 1932. The same intent test will be applied by Medicaid according to S. 1932 in the future as is applied today.
What will change is the period through which Medicaid is allowed to question certain transfers for less than FMV (the three year look back period will become a five year look back period) and the way the existing penalty policy is enforced (if a penalty is assessed, that penalty period will begin to run at the time Medicaid nursing home services are provided instead of at the time of transfer of the asset).
Let me share with you a letter I requested from Chairman Nathan Deal (GA-10), of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, assuring me that the allegations of the effects of the Medicaid language contained in S. 1932 are incorrect and misleading.
In a letter dated Jan. 24, 2006, Chairman Deal wrote:
I hope this information is helpful and clears up any questions or concerns you may have had on this issue.
My staff and I work for you. Please call if we can be of service.
Jo Bonner represents the people of this area in the U.S. H ouse of Representatives.