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Minnesota Makes it Harder to Collect Medicaid For LTC

Many state have been working diligently to provide Medicaid benefits for home care instead of forcing Medicaid recipients into nursing homes.  This serves more people in nicer and often more appropriate settings.  However, it does not seem to save money as when the medicine tastes good, more people want the medicine.

Starting this month, home care benefits will only be offered by Minnesota if the recipient needs assistance with 4 activities of daily living (ADL’s).  “Until now, it has been relatively easy for poor Minnesotans to qualify for the program. It was enough to show that they needed assistance in one basic activity of daily living, such as help with bathing or dressing.”

“Under the new criteria, seniors must show that they need assistance in at least four
activities of daily living; or, alternatively, they need help in a single critical activity such as toileting or transferring, for example, moving from a bed to a wheelchair.”

Unfortunately, Medicaid home care tends to delay institutionalization, but does not prevent it, thus causing higher costs overall.  Medicaid expenditures for all LTC – home and community-based care and nursing home care combined – continue to rise rapidly everywhere.  Furthermore, the availability of home care makes Medicaid much more attractive than when nursing home care was the only option.  Thus, when home care is offered, the public is less likely to plan privately for LTC and more likely to rely on Medicaid.  Consequently, LTC expenditures, especially for home-based services, continue to skyrocket.

With Medicaid budgets increasing faster than Social Security and Medicare, the time will come when the federal government cannot print money fast enough to pay for everyone’s care under Medicaid.  Many already assume incorrectly that Medicaid is an entitlement.  One qualifies for it not by age, or disability, but by being out of money, impoverished, broke.  Nobody plans to end up that way, but with Medicaid giving out the home care people want, many incorrectly assume it is free for all.

Once care is needed, and the money is spent, it is too late to qualify to purchase LTC insurance and Medicaid is the only option.  Many Minnesotans are now learning this the hard way as their desirable benefits are now being restricted.  Compound this problem with the aging of America (10,000 Americans turn 65 every day – 12,000 turn 50 every day) and who will be left to provide the care?  America’s population is not growing, but minimum wages are.  With fewer people to fill the caregiving jobs, wages will go up until sufficient workers apply for these jobs.  Costs will rise even faster than the 5-6% average over the past 20 years in this field.  Will you be prepared?

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The Long Term Care Guy