Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Medicaid Rule to Sock Low Income Disabled, Elderly

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Medicaid Rule to Sock Low Income Disabled, Elderly

Article excerpt

A new Medicaid rule issued by the Reagan administration will sock it to low income disabled and elderly individuals who rely on the program to pay for their care in nursing homes and other chronic care institutions. Medicaid is a joint federal-state initiative devised to help people living on limited incomes.

If the change goes into effect next month as planned, it will force recipients on pensions to pay from $50 to $75 more a month out of their own pockets.

Gene Chandler, an official at the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, says a full assessment of the probable impact hasn't yet been made. In fact, his long-term care division at the department has yet to see the new regulations.

He suggests, nonetheless, that "a lot of them (recipients) couldn't pay more." What that means to state government, as well as Medicaid-eligible recipients, is wafting on the breeze.

Will those who can't come up with the additional money be compelled to make other arrangments? Or will it force the legislature to find alternatives to bridge the gap? If so, it would have to be independent of Medicaid.

Chandler acknowledges that there "could be state monies if the Legislature chooses to appropriate it."

Those who administer Medicaid at the federal level estimate that 20 percent to 50 percent of all nursing home recipients may be affected. But the states will save at least $160 million and perhaps as much as $615 million over three years.

As seen from that perspective, some states might be able to fund a separate plan designed to bail out those who lack the resources to pay the full amount of the increase.

Medicaid recipients covered by the rule are those with incomes from a pension, Social Security or other sources.

Over the past 15 years, the government has allowed Medicaid recipients to deduct certain medical expenses from their incomes before determining precisely how much they must pay for nursing home services. …

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