New Law Passed!

February 7, 2006

On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (S. 1932) by a vote of 216 to 214. The Senate has already passed the bill by a vote of 51 to 50, with the Vice President breaking the tie. The bill will now be sent to the President for signature.

This is a sad day for older Americans and individuals with disabilities facing long-term care crises. It is a sad day for many of our clients who will face confusing and unfair Medicaid eligibility rules. Transfers made after the date of the President’s signature (or New York State implementation) will be subject to the new law. Importantly, transfers made prior to this new law will not be effected and any advice we gave you on those transfers still holds true.

The new law extends the “look back period” to five (5) years for all transfers (to trusts or otherwise) and starts the Medicaid penalty period from the first day of the month after which you enter a nursing home and apply for Medicaid rather than the first day of the month after which you actually made a transfer. The biggest criticism of this new law is that when you apply for Medicaid, you will have no assets and no ability to pay for your care.

We urge you to seek our counsel immediately as we alert you to this new law and its consequences. There is also a possibility that a window of opportunity may exist to plan under the old law before New York implements the new law. We will continue to remain dedicated to preserving the rights and the dignity of senior citizens and those with special needs. We urge you to plan now.