Update on the New Medicaid Law

February 16, 2006

A mistake on “The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005″ which was purportedly signed into law by President George W. Bush on February 8, 2006, could mean that it is not technically a law. But, congressional Republicans said that they have no plans to try to fix the problem, even though a fellow NAELA (National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys) member, Jim Zeigler, has filed a lawsuit charging the $39 billion deficit-cutting legislation Bush signed is unconstitutional because the House and Senate failed to pass identical versions. House GOP leaders insist there’s no problem.

The bill, which Bush signed February 8, tightens rules for Medicaid nursing home eligibility to make it more difficult for those who have transferred their assets to their families or to charities to qualify for Medicaid.

Zeigler, who advises the elderly on eligibility for nursing home care under the Medicaid program for the poor and disabled, filed suit Monday in federal court in Mobile, Ala., naming Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as a defendant. Justice Department spokesman Charles Miller declined comment on the case.

House Democrats, accusing GOP leaders of abusing the legislative process, have asked for another vote. On the last vote February 1, the bill passed by the narrowest of margins, 216-214.

The White House and House and Senate GOP leaders say the matter is settled because the mistake was technical and that top House and Senate leaders certified the bill before transmitting it to the White House.

We urge you to seek the counsel of Davidow, Davidow, Siegel & Stern 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.