Medicaid is government-funded health insurance that is typically reserved for individuals who do not make enough money to purchase health insurance on their own or those who need assistance paying for long-term care such as nursing home care. The Medicaid program is commonly confused with Medicare which provides health coverage for people who are 65 years of age or older, or for certain disabled individuals under the age of 65, regardless of their income. Individuals seeking Medicaid eligibility and coverage must prove that they fall below certain income and asset levels. Medicaid becomes extremely important for our aging population that faces thousands of dollars of long-term health care costs each month, with the average cost being $8,000 per month in Florida. Because of the overwhelming expense associated with long-term care, many people are turning to Medicaid planning to find a way to overcome what can be a difficult situation and meet the very strict eligibility requirements. In addition, many people have estate planning documents in place that can make them ineligible for Medicaid and other public benefits. An experienced elder law attorney can spot estate plan issues before they become a problem so it is important to seek proper legal advice from a law firm that handles Medicaid planning.
As a Florida Medicaid planning lawyer, Javier Centonzio has seen just how devastating the financial cost of growing older or becoming ill can be. Medical emergencies can happen at any given moment and having the necessary money to handle the high cost of an emergency can be difficult for a significant number of Florida residents. As such, Centonzio Law helps clients plan for unforeseen events by discussing many tools and planning options to help pay for long-term care including, but not limited to, Medicaid benefits. From our main law office located in the center of Pinellas County we serve clients in St. Petersburg, Largo, Seminole, Tampa, Clearwater, and the surrounding Tampa Bay areas.
Medicaid planning is the process of helping individuals become qualified for and obtain Medicaid long-term care benefits to assist with the enormous expense of long-term care. However, because it can be difficult to qualify for Medicaid, Medicaid planning lawyer Javier Centonzio helps many clients find a way to become eligible for Medicaid benefits, regardless of their financial situation. Medicaid planning is one of the most important and growing practice areas in our country due to our aging population.
Medicaid laws allow individuals to protect certain assets so that nursing home and other long-term care facility costs do not quickly wipe away income and assets a person has worked a lifetime to build. As a Florida Medicaid planning lawyer, Javier Centonzio will evaluate a client’s financial situation to determine what the best options under Florida Medicaid laws are for protecting assets when there are looming long-term care costs. A health care crisis can happen at any time, and while it is best to prepare before a crisis happens, there may still be options for protecting assets such as real estate even when someone is already receiving nursing home care or has recently been hospitalized and is currently receiving care in a rehabilitation center. Medicaid planning involves a discussion of a variety of factors, including, but not limited to, the following:
Many Florida residents may not qualify for Medicaid because they make too much money or have too many assets of value. These individuals often find themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place because while they may have sufficient income to handle life’s basic needs, such income can quickly diminish when the time comes to pay for long-term health care, which can reach nearly $100,000 in one year. As such, it is crucial to work with a Florida Medicaid planning lawyer, such as Javier Centonzio, who can develop a plan to help you receive Medicaid coverage for long-term health care, whether such care is in the home or a long-term care facility like a nursing home or assisted living facility (ALF).
In the state of Florida, residents of a nursing home or other long-term care facility may only receive a total of two (2) hours of personal care each day, which is insufficient to meet their needs. Personal Services Contracts (PSC), also known as Family Caregiver Agreements, allows individuals to pay a friend, family member or any other person they choose to be a caregiver to supplement care where a long-term care facility cannot. By entering into a personal services contract, which requires a lump-sum payment to the caregiver, an individual can “spend down” assets, helping him or her to become or remain Medicaid-eligible. Medicaid planning lawyer Javier Centonzio can explain the pros and cons of utilizing a Personal Services Contract and, most importantly, draft the contract properly so you can become or remain Medicaid eligible.
Under Florida’s Medicaid program, property an individual owns that is income-producing (such as a condominium or apartment) is not counted as an “asset” for purposes of determining if the individual is eligible for Medicaid coverage. In 2018, a single person may not have more than $2,000 of “countable assets” in order to qualify for Medicaid benefits. Many people are unaware that they can convert “countable assets,” such as cash, into “non-countable assets,” such as an income-producing property. However, while an asset in the form of an income-producing property is considered exempt when determining if someone is eligible for Medicaid, the income produced from the property will be counted to determine if an individual still meets the income requirements for Medicaid. The Medicaid planning team at Centonzio Law can help determine whether income-producing property is the right choice for your Medicaid planning needs.
Florida is considered an Income Cap state for Medicaid purposes. This means that a person who receives income higher than the limit set by the State will not be eligible to receive Medicaid benefits. The income cap in Florida as of January 2018 is $2,250 per month. Under Florida law, a person can establish a qualified-income trust (QIT), also known as a “Miller” trust, to get around the income cap and become Medicaid eligible. There are very specific rules and requirements that govern the use of qualified income trusts, and Medicaid planning attorney Javier Centonzio can make sure you understand these requirements and draft the proper qualified income trust for your specific Medicaid planning needs.
You should not have to give up your hard-earned money and property to cover the cost of long-term care treatment. The system is simply unfair, but some steps can help you both keep your assets and become eligible for much-needed Medicaid coverage. As such, working with Medicaid planning attorney Javier Centonzio to craft a plan for the future or for an unexpected health care crisis is essential for both you and your loved ones. While it is never easy to predict a crisis, whether health-related or not, acting quickly to establish a plan can substantially alleviate the stress associated with becoming reliant on long-term health care. Having advance directives in place is a good start but not enough to ensure you meet the eligibility requirements for Medicaid, Veterans Benefits, and other public benefits. Let Centonzio Law help provide you with peace of mind through the high quality and compassionate legal services we provide.
If you, a loved one or a friend are concerned about the rising cost of long-term care and believe Medicaid planning may be right for you, consider speaking with a qualified Florida Medicaid planning lawyer right away. Javier A. Centonzio, J.D., L.L.M. represents numerous clients and handles a variety of elder law matters, including, among others, Medicaid planning. To find out how Javier A. Centonzio may be able to help you, contact his office today by calling (727) 900-7290 to receive your Medicaid planning consultation.