Medicaid payments will soon stop for some - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Medicaid payments will soon stop for some

June 11, 2004

Mitchell County- July 1 is the deadline to find alternative care plans for loved ones in nursing homes whose incomes are supplemented by Medicaid to pay the long-term care bills.

That program was cut this year and families are wondering what to do.

Harmon West cared for his brother Marion in his own home, until four years.

"I'm not physically able to handle him and I'm not qualified to provide the kind of care that he needs," West said.

Marion's in the last stages of Alzheimer's. But like many Georgia families, they're trying to figure out how to pay for his care when the Medicaid supplement stops this month.

Friday, some of these families showed South Georgia lawmakers how bad the problem is by touring a Pelham nursing home.

"I didn't hear about this during the legislative session. We would have reacted had we heard about it," said Rep. Richard Royal, (D) Camilla. "The families said they knew about it two weeks ago."

"The Governor, the Senate and the House, all but four members agreed that this was the cut that was necessary because we believed in what the Department of Community Health told us," said Rep. Ed Rynders, (R) Lee County.

There is an option that may help. Many of the families are being advised by state advocacy lawyers to open a Miller Trust.

A person must take in $1,692 or less each month to qualify for Medicaid. If you open a Miller Trust for your family member, you must deposit some of their monthly income into the trust so that they qualify for Medicaid.

So, after a family receives notification of termination of medicaid benefits, they should file an appeal. That will extend your loved ones benefits temporarily.

Then, contact an attorney about opening a Miller Trust.

After you get the trust, go to DFACS and apply your loved one for Medicaid.

Once they have regular Medicaid, the state kicks in the rest of the money to pay for the long-term care.

The reality is that by using the trust, the state's still paying for the long-term care.

"I don't think they will save money on this," said Bob Rauback, an attorney with the Georgia Advocacy Office in Atlanta. "In fact, there's a possibility they might loose money."

Most of the families say they are planning to open a trust.

"You can see the condition he's in," West said. "And I'd say that they have provided all that he needs to go through the rest of his life."

A level of care that West knows should continue.

For more information, contact the Georgia Legal Services Program through its Albany office. If in the Albany area, call 430-4261. Outside of Albany, call 1-800-735-4271.

posted at 9:43 p.m. by brannon.stewart@walb.com