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Big Changes are Expected for the Medicaid Program – Stuart Schoenfeld & Monica Ruela

Governor Cuomo recently announced his proposed State Budget for 2020-21 and it is making the many of us working with the elderly or disabled very nervous.  The proposed budget states that $2.5 billion must be cut from the Medicaid program.  Although the proposed budget does not specify which aspects of the Medicaid program will be cut, it does set up a Medicaid Redesign Team (“MRT”) designed to consider the aspects of the Medicaid program that should be changed or eliminated.  These recommendations are expected to come out in mid-March.

Although no one knows for sure what these recommendations will be, we have some good guesses as to what is on the chopping block.  The first item under the microscope is the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (“CDPAP”). The CDPAP program allows consumers to recruit, hire, and direct their own home care workers, rather than using caregivers from agencies.  In many cases, the most appropriate and suitable care can best be provided by a relative or other chosen caregiver rather than an agency.

The second item is the Spousal Refusal.  The Spousal Refusal is utilized by many couples applying for long-term care benefits for an ailing spouse –  either at home or in a facility.  This essential eligibility strategy ensures that the “well” spouse can protect needed resources and income to pay living expenses.  The elimination of this strategy would be devastating to many throughout the state as it would mean that both spouses would need to be impoverished to get on the program.

Various NYS bar associations are advocating for these needed programs.  We at CBMS continue to vigilantly watch the changes to the Medicaid program and we urge our friends, colleagues and clients to be proactive about their own Medicaid planning.  We are always here to address any questions and concerns.

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