In late February 2007, the state of Georgia finally initiated its estate recovery program. This program is designed to recover certain benefits paid on behalf of nursing home Medicaid recipients after May 2006. To the extent that your loved one has passed away since May 2006, you should expect a letter from the state identifying an amount that must be repaid. This debt is similar to other debts of the estate and generally must be satisfied out of the estate’s assets before heirs can receive what is left over. There are rare occasions when estate recovery might be waived, including when the estate is valued under $25000 or when the spouse is awarded a Years’ Support through probate court. If you have questions about estate recovery, we would refer you directly to the state’s recovery hotline at 770-916-0328. In addition, you are encouraged to go here to read the actual recovery regulations so that you can begin to develop an understanding of how recovery will occur:
With the advent of estate recovery in Georgia, should I still implement a Medicaid plan? Absolutely. Planning for eligibility may very well result in ownership of assets from which the state does not seek to recover. Only time will tell which assets are outside of estate recovery, but it is possible that some assets will escape recovery altogether. Moreover, even if estate recovery is implemented and Medicaid benefits previously received must be repaid, repayment takes place at the Medicaid rate instead of the private pay rate. On average, a nursing home in metro Atlanta costs $90,000 per year if one is paying privately. On the other hand, an average Medicaid reimbursement rate is closer to $66,000 per year. Accordingly, in this hypothetical, the resident saves nearly $24,000 per year because she was on Medicaid. Finally, keep in mind that once eligible, the recipient is only responsible for paying some of her income over to the nursing home. Accordingly, the negative cash flow effect otherwise created by private nursing home payments is greatly diminished. For these reasons, the best course is still to work with an attorney to qualify with the help of a Medicaid plan before everything has been spent.