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Medi-Cal Planning in the Face of Program Cuts

Many California residents depend on Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program, for a variety of healthcare services. Seniors, foster children, people with disabilities, low-income families, and nursing home residents of any age are among those who rely on the program's benefits in order to preserve their health and maintain the best quality of life possible.

Various budget cuts, including a 10% cut to Medi-Cal reimbursement that went into effect towards the end of 2013, threaten the existence of providers and programs that depend on Medi-Cal. For example, PACE - Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly - has been experiencing cuts in funding, even though it serves an important function: keeping many seniors and people with disabilities from having to make the costly move out of their private residences and into nursing homes or other institutions.

Budget constraints add to the anxiety of people who are applying for Medi-Cal and incorporating Medi-Cal planning into their overall estate planning.

First off, there's less of a guarantee that even if they do qualify, their medical needs will be met adequately. There's also a concern that applications may be more closely scrutinized and more likely to be rejected, even over minor errors. You may also be right over the cut off point for eligibility, and will need to make some adjustments to your income and assets in order to successfully apply.

Another issue that worries people on Medi-Cal is estate recovery. If you're at least 55 years old when you pass away, or have ever made use of nursing home services prior to your death, the state can make claims to various assets you leave behind, including the contents of bank accounts and living trusts; the state does this to reimburse itself, at least in part, for the cost of your medical services when you were still alive.

Estate recovery exceptions are made for circumstances when there's a surviving spouse, a minor child, or a child of any age who is blind or disabled. Exceptions may also be made in some cases where a beneficiary can prove undue hardship or has served as a caregiver for the departed individual. It's important to thoroughly review your situation with an attorney to see what assets you're able to hang onto and what you can fight for.

On top of estate recovery, Medi-Cal can also place a lien on your home when you're still alive. (It's possible, however, for your home to be exempt.)

Don't hesitate to contact a Torrance estate planning attorney who has experience helping people qualify for Medi-Cal coverage. The steep cost of medical services, the reduced budget for Medi-Cal, and the need to receive benefits while also protecting assets are all issues that contribute to people's worries. With advice and guidance, you increase your chances of an outcome that serves your best interests and the needs of your loved ones.

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Law Offices of James C. Shields - Torrance Bankruptcy & Estate Planning Attorney
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