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Texas lawmakers considering expansion of Medicaid

The longer life spans afforded by modern medicine are a boon in some respects. For the elderly requiring long-term care, those final years can be a nightmare filled with diminished assets and increasing debt. Medicaid planning encompasses many tactics used to protect assets and maximize Medicaid eligibility for long-term health care coverage. It may be used to protect the assets of a healthy spouse and preserve the estate for heirs. Potential changes to Medicaid law in Texas may alter the rules of long-term care planning.

In Texas, Republicans have so far chosen to opt out of participation in the Medicaid expansion plan offered under the Affordable Care Act. Opposition continues despite a recent report from the former Deputy Comptroller for the state, which predicted Medicaid expansion would result in over 230,000 new jobs and a return to the state of $100 billion by 2016.

Opponents argue that Medicaid reimbursement levels are too low to cover provider costs. Their underlying position is that extra money will only prolong the life of an unfixable system. Proponents of state acceptance point to the fact that uninsured Texans are seeking health care at emergency rooms, which lead to increased costs paid for by local taxpayers.

Few healthy people want to consider methods of paying for long-term care. However, these costs often continue for decades and can drain the assets of even large estates. If Texas enters the federal Medicaid plan, it may change income requirements and methods of sheltering assets. Protecting loved ones from the expenses of long-term medical care is an important goal in estate planning. An elder law attorney may be able to assist senior citizens in navigating the current law and possible changes.

Source: The Texas Tribune, "Medicaid Expansion in Spotlight as Session Heats Up," Ben Philpott, Feb. 4, 2013

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