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Dispelling Medicaid Myths – Part 1

Written by: Jeremy Pryor

Posted on: May 17, 2024

Couple care facility with nurse

Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing a series of articles from The Senex e-newsletter where Jeremy Pryor, elder law attorney at Carrell Blanton Ferris, will dispel myths regarding the Medicaid program.

This week we would like to begin a short series on dispelling a few myths regarding the Medicaid program. While much could be written on this subject, we think it important to start with one of the most frequent and consequential myths we encounter: the myth that Medicaid is (only) for poor people. In our experience, most families and individuals we speak with are under the impression that to be eligible for Medicaid you have to become poor. Like most of the best lies, this one includes an element of truth, but it’s a truth that serves to deceive. Yes—it is true that Medicaid imposes income and asset restrictions on an individual’s eligibility. But these restrictions do not serve to require impoverishment, rather they prevent it. Don’t believe us? Here’s a quote from the Medicaid Manual:

“These rules are intended to prevent the impoverishment of a spouse living in the community when the other spouse enters long-term care.”  -M1480.000.A

When the federal government established the Medicaid program, one of its goals was to prevent people—especially spouses—from becoming impoverished by the cost of long-term care. Just as Social Security was intended to ensure income and avoid destitution, so Medicaid was intended to ensure a payment source for long-term care costs for the same reason. We all contribute our tax dollars to the program so that none of us end up needing care and not being able to pay for it or bankrupting our spouses and children to pay for our care needs. In other words, the needs of individual shouldn’t lead to financial ruin for the family. Sadly, too many people assume that the Medicaid program has nothing to offer them when confronting high long-term care costs because they assume that it can only help them if they have absolutely nothing left. It’s just not true.

We’ll look at another common Medicaid myth in a couple weeks, but if you have any clients that need help with Medicaid qualification or questions about how Medicaid might offer a payment solution for someone you know in the meantime, we hope you’ll let us know.

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