Life Care Planning Reed: Medicaid policies related to COVID-19

Sandra W. Reed
Sandra Reed

Jessica M. has been receiving Medicaid benefits for her long-term care since March 28, 2016. Thomas J. is submitting an initial Medicaid application. How will Medicaid COVID-19-related policies affect each?

Changes to Medicaid recertification policy

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act prohibits states from terminating Medicaid coverage for those receiving benefits as of March 18, 2020. Jessica had to complete papers to obtain recertification for Medicaid benefits every year. The new law suspends recertification due on or after March 18, 2020 until further notice. Consequently, Jessica and her family were relieved from submitting recertification paperwork on March 28, 2020. She can determine if the extension remains in place for her 2021 anniversary date by accessing Texas Integrated Eligibility Redesign System (TIERS), the State Portal or YourTexasBenefits.com.

Effect of stimulus payments on Medicaid eligibility

Jessica has received 2020 and 2021 stimulus payments. In compliance with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES act), stimulus payments are excluded as income for Medicaid recipients, both for purposes of eligibility and for Medicaid co-payments. Additionally, they are excluded as resources for twelve months after the month received.

Jessica can co-mingle her stimulus payments with other funds, but she must be able to separately identify them. Medicaid will review bank statements to make the determination as to whether they are identifiable. Further, Medicaid will assume that non-excluded funds are withdrawn first. Thus, Jessica has an incentive to spend any funds she has accumulated,  as well as the stimulus funds, before the end of twelve month.

Effect on income verification requirements

Thomas must verify his income to Medicaid to qualify. He has had difficulty getting the information on a timely basis due to the impacts of the virus on his bank’s operation. Thomas will benefit from Medicaid’s instruction to its personnel to accept the applicant’s statement of income if all efforts to obtain verification have failed.

Changes to signing-in-person requirements

Since sheltering in place requirements have interfered with in-person meetings to sign documents, Governor Abbott has suspended statutes requiring signature in person before a notary public. Instead, the notary can verify signatures through two-way video and audio conferencing. Jessica and Thomas can take advantage of this for any documents they are required to have notarized.

Sandra W. Reed practices Elder Law in Somervell County, handling probating of estates, drafting of wills, trusts, powers of attorney and deeds as well as estate and Medicaid planning.  She lives in beautiful Chalk Mountain and can be reached at (254) 797-0211; (817) 946-2809 or at sreed@kattenbenson.com.