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Indiana Increases Annual Medicaid Spending by 37 Million Dollars

Last month, Governor Mike Pence announced that Indiana will increase its Medicaid spending by an additional 37 million dollars per year. The increase is made in an effort to restore services that used to be offered, such as dental and vision coverage for adults enrolled in Medicaid and speech and hearing therapies. This spending increase will also allow the state to raise its rate of reimbursement to hospitals, care centers, nursing homes, and health care providers by two percent. The hope is that the rate increase will offer a better incentive for care centers and health care providers to treat the over 1.1 million Hoosiers currently enrolled in Medicaid. In addition to increasing the amount of state funds allocated to Medicaid spending, Gov. Mike Pence is also in the process of continuing negotiations with the federal government on whether to expand Medicaid coverage to over 400,000 more Hoosiers as part of the new federal health care law. While the federal government establishes general guidelines for Medicaid administration, it is left to the individual states to establish specific eligibility requirements as well as the type and scope of the services provided. Although Gov. Pence wants to see the Medicaid program expanded to help even more people, he has repeatedly rejected any coverage expansions involving the traditional Medicaid program. Instead, Gov. Pence has applied to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to allow Indiana to use its own Healthy Indiana Plan as the means for expanding the Medicaid coverage. The proposed Medicaid expansion would cover Indiana residents earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Currently, Medicaid is only available to those residents whose financial situation can be characterized as low income or very low income and are either 65 years of age or older, pregnant, a parent a dependent child under age 19, or disabled. The eligibility rules vary depending on whether an applicant is married or single, however, generally an applicant is not allowed to have more than $1,500 in his or her name alone. Additional allowances are made for a spouse’s support, an individual’s monthly maintenance and personal needs, utilities, etc. In addition, a married couple may retain ownership of their primary residence, one vehicle, and all personal and household goods without being penalized. The rules and guidelines for Medicaid are very strict and the qualification process is often very complicated. Because of the low income and asset qualifications required to enroll in the Medicaid program, it is often necessary to plan ahead. Giving money and other property away is not always an acceptable means of reducing a person’s assets because gifts are penalized by Medicaid and will disqualify a person from receiving any benefits for a number of months or even years depending on the size of the gifts and how recently they were made. Instead, there are special measures that can be taken to protect much of a person’s assets and still allow him or her to qualify for Medicaid, such as taking advantage of certain annuities and burial trusts. To better understand the Medicaid program, its qualification rules, and how you or a loved one can become eligible, please call 877-877-LAW2 (5292) or 219-924-2427 to speak with one of our elder law attorneys today.

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