UNITED STATES—Toni, I have a friend who just received a bill from the state of Texas for his mother’s Medicaid nursing home care. No one informed him that Medicaid (the State of Texas) was running a tab of the entire healthcare that Medicaid paid and would take his mother’s house. Now, Medicaid wants to be reimbursed for over $125,000 that was spent for his mother’s care and her expensive prescriptions.

Stan recently received a document from MERP saying that Medicaid wants the money used for her care back because his mother owned the house that he lives in. Thanks Abe from Richmond, TX.

Abe: Americans should know about the MERP (Medicaid Estate Recovery Program). At the Toni Says office, we consult with confused adult children that are shocked when they find out their state has taken a lien on their parent’s house because of long term care healthcare cost that the specific state paid for.

I am sure your friend was astonished to find out that the state of Texas wants its $125K back that was spent for his mother’s Medicaid long term care/medical. The care can be at home, assisted living facility, personal care home or in a nursing home. It does not matter when the Medicaid system has paid for the care.

Medicaid can recover ANY and all medical expenses which include any hospital services, prescription drugs and even Medicare cost sharing expenses which are…Medicare premiums (Part A – hospital insurance, Part B – medical insurance), deductibles and coinsurance amounts that the state’s Medicaid has paid.

All claims against an estate, including MERP claims, must be paid before the property can be distributed as specified in the legal will. The state does not, however, require an heir to sell the deceased recipient’s homestead (house) if the claim can be paid by other funds. But if not, then you may have to sell the house, or the state will file a lien against the house.

This is a real surprise when a Medicare beneficiary receives Medicaid Long Term Care and later the Medicaid recipient’s estate receives notification from the state of Texas for a “Notice of Intent to File a Claim against the Estate.

In the letter sent to the recipient’s estate it states…“the amount received will not exceed the value of the estate’s assets, if any. If there is no money or assets in the estate, then there is nothing to recover.”

Now…you know how the Medicaid’s Long Term Care services operate. My advice would be to explore all of your options and work out a schedule with family members to take care of your loved one. This way you can protect all that your loved ones have worked so hard to accumulate.

To do list for Medicaid’s Long-Term Care planning:

  • Explore long term care options for yourself or an elderly parent/family member while still in decent health to help avoid using Medicaid LTC planning to protect your financial assets.
  • Seek the advice of an Elder Care Attorney that can help with proper Medicaid planning Do proper planning…No one wants their adult kids or grandchildren to be their caregiver and take care of their activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, bathroom problems, etc.
  • Do not rely on advice from well-meaning friends who are not experts in the Medicare/Medicaid arena.

If you are still confused and would like to discuss your specific Medicare circumstances either email info@tonisays.com or call 832-519-8664 and the Toni Says® team can help you. Toni King, author of the Medicare Survival Guide® Advanced is giving a $5 discount on the Medicare Survival Guide® Advanced book and bundle packages as a Thank You for the Toni Says® newspaper article readers. Go to www.tonisays.com to purchase.