St. Augustine Woman's Journal - Educational Resource to the Women of St. Johns County Since 2009

MEDICAID and Nursing Homes - What's the Deal?


February 1, 2017 | View PDF

He came into my office on a hot July day. The receptionist noticed that he was sweating and gave him a cool drink of water. As he filled out his information sheet he quipped, "You know I'm 85 today!" She said, "Congratulations, do you have any special plans?" "Nope" and he didn't elaborate.

When we went into the conference room and he reminded me that my ad said that there was no charge for the initial consultation and I said, "That's right, no charge, so how can I help you?" I assumed he was there for estate planning purposes. The man said, "My wife has been in a nursing home for over three years and I'm down to $30,000.00 and I'm getting scared." "She has dementia but she's otherwise pretty healthy. She might outlive me!" But he didn't chuckle. I could tell he was really tired as he slumped in his seat. "I've got a realtor picked out so I can get my house To be eligible for Medicaid to pay the nursing home, the community spouse, (the one not in the nursing home), can have $119,229.00 in cash sitting in the bank or on the kitchen table at home and the other will still be eligible. It is not our systems desire to impoverish the remaining spouse in order to qualify for Medicaid support for Nursing Home care. In Florida it is not our state's intent for you to sell your home, either. Why? Because everyone should have the reasonable expectation that they can "get well" and go back home! If we make folks sell their homes then where are they going to go? Live on the street? Nossiree! But you've got to get some help. Get the help early on by setting up your trust, (your Revocable, Inter vivos, living trust) and all your advanced directives, (Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Surrogate, Living Will, Pre-Need Guardianship Election), and then you can go live, live, live! But when something bad happens, (accident, illness, etc), run, run, run to your nearest Elder Law attorney and have a chat. Be informed and ready so life doesn't rob you of not only the loving companionship of your spouse or parent but also all of your financial resources as well. sold to get some more money, so I need some advice about all this."

I thought to myself, this man should have come to see me about ninety thousand dollars earlier. But he didn't have the information, the basic, simple information about Nursing Homes, Medicaid and how to apply for his wife's coverage. They had no family in Florida and he got caught up in being a good care provider for his beloved wife of fifty plus years who now, heartbreakingly, doesn't even know his name! So he sees her every day and pays the nursing home on the first of each month.

I gently told him that his wife was already eligible for Medicaid, (the government program that pays for skilled nursing home care) and that he would not have to pay anymore. He also didn't have to sell his home because that is an exempt asset that no one can touch according to Florida law. He broke down in tears. So right then and there we pulled out the Medicaid application and before he left we filed it. As he headed out the door he said, "How come I didn't know about all this, how come nobody told me before I spent our life savings on the Nursing Home. Why didn't the Nursing Home tell me!"

Well, it's not the Nursing Home's job to give out legal advice although many are becoming more helpful by at least referring people to attorneys. The Nursing Home's job is to look after our loved ones and if you are financially able to collect your payment for their services. The gentleman in our story had started with over half a million dollars but at close to $10,000.00 a month it didn't take long to eat it up.

Call Joe Boles at 904-824-4278 ask for Suzi and come in to see me, before it's too late.

Joseph L. Boles, Jr. moved to St. Augustine with his parents in 1967. A native of North Carolina, he attended the University of Florida after graduating from St. Augustine High School in 1970. He initially obtained a Bachelor of Design and Advertising Design from the University of Florida, and also obtained his law degree from the University of Florida College of Law. He was admitted to practice in the fall of 1984 and his areas of interest are Elder law, asset protection, estates and trusts. He is married to Jane Reynolds and they have 7 children between them: Hayley, Molly, and Kirby Catherine Boles and Kara, Willie, Emily and Bridey Masson. His office is located on the corner of Riberia and Saragossa Streets in St. Augustine.

The office phone number is 904-824-4278.


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