It isn’t only the coronavirus that is endangering senior citizens with health problems. Governor Cuomo’s Medicaid Redesign Team’s proposal to cut Medicaid is still on the table for the April 1 budget. While I don’t want to add fuel to our fires with more bad news, this issue cannot fall through the cracks! This is a serious problem both from the perspective of finances and our aging populations. Although I am not sure of a resolution, I do know that it should not be this. The New York Legal Assistance Group and other groups are asking the public to voice their opposition to these cuts which will harm an already hard hit population. The changes include the following:

  • Instituting a Home and Community Based Eligibility Lookback Period of 60 Months. Many families face having a loved one who needs care, but they have too money much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to be able to comfortably afford care without jeopardizing their own finances. Home and community-based Medicaid currently affords them with a way to obtain some care right away paid for by Medicaid because there is no five-year lookback prohibiting asset transfers unlike nursing home Medicaid. However, the proposed Medicaid cuts seek to apply the lookback to such care, which would make it much harder and more time-consuming for people to get coverage.
  • Eliminating “Spousal Refusal” or “Parental Refusal.” Spouses and parents with children with severe disabilities can refuse to support the Medicaid applicant in order to preserve family income needed to meet living expenses. Notwithstanding this, counties can and do sue some refusing spouses or parents for support when they have the means to pay. However, the proposed change would eliminate it for all jeopardizing middle-income families who need the money for their living expenses.
  • Implementing Changes to the Community Spouse Resource Amount. The allowance would be cut from $74,820 to $25,728, which will hit more expensive areas like Long Island hard because families will find it difficult to retain enough resources to meet expenses.
  • Changing Eligibility Criteria for Personal Care Services (PCS) and Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP). The proposed change requires that an individual must be assessed to need assistance with more than two activities of daily living (ADLs) to be eligible for assistance. However, as noted by NYLAG, an ADL would only count if the individual needs “limited assistance” (i.e., physical assistance), not the supervisory “cueing” assistance typically needed by those with cognitive impairments such as dementia or traumatic brain injury. It would also eliminate “Level I” personal care housekeeping services that prevents injuries for those whose disabilities make them unable to do chores like shopping, laundry, and meal preparation.

While some think these cuts will be put on hold for now, the Governor is still pushing his original budget agenda despite the coronavirus. Even if these do not happen now, it is likely to be revisited as the state faces additional financial problems due to COVID-19.

Please visit NYLAG’s website for more information about how you can help.