Illinois Medicaid Rules for Nursing Home Coverage

New Medicaid rules are coming soon to a state near you. By February 9, 2011, the State of Illinois is expected to adopt the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, as amended by federal changes in 2006. Implementation is anticipated by next year. The time frame, however, is not set in stone.

Discussions between the Elder Law Bar and state officials are ongoing, and I have had the privilege of participating in them. Representatives of the state have graciously solicited feedback from elder care experts like myself, in order to analyze various aspects of the new rules and their consequences, but we have yet to determine exactly how they will be implemented.

Issues we are still discussing pertain to retroactivity, hardship waivers, and partial returns. When more concrete information becomes available about how the new rules will be implemented, we will certainly update you. In the meantime, here are a few thoughts about elder law and long-term care planning:

First, if you are physically and financially able, we recommend you obtain long-term care insurance. Long-term care insurance is the first line of defense for protecting assets, especially for the middle class in our country.

Second, please be aware that traditional estate planning is not the same as long-term care planning. Estate planning deals with what happens upon your death, or in certain cases, disability. By contrast, long-term care planning prepares you to manage the costs of chronic illness and the sophisticated care for many years it often requires. The tools and objectives of long-term care planning are different than in traditional estate planning. Don’t confuse the two!

Finally, do not underestimate the value of proactive planning. While you still have plenty of time, take advantage of it! When we are faced with an urgent trigger, like sudden illness, we are compelled to engage in crisis planning. While crisis planning can potentially save substantial amounts of your assets, proactive planning is ideal. Proactive long-term care planning can turn your desirable objectives for your hard-earned assets into a reality. Don’t wait to get started!

During our fast-paced lives, the holidays provide a unique opportunity to share time with family. Investing some of that family time in a conversation about long-term care planning will reap the best rewards you could ask for: preservation of your wealth and your peace of mind.

Happy Holidays!