Understanding the Texas Medicaid Estate Recovery Program (MERP)
The Texas Medicaid program pays almost half the cost of all nursing home and other long term care expenses. So in March of 2005, Texas implemented the Medicaid Estate Recovery Program (MERP) to comply with federal laws. This program allows the state to file a claim against the estate of a deceased Medicaid recipient, age 55 or older, who received payments for certain long-term care services. Claims can include the cost of services, hospital care and prescription drugs paid for by Medicaid. However, the state will not file claims in the following situations:
a) where there are estates valued less than $10,000,
b) where the costs were less than $3,000,
c) where the cost of selling the property would be result in no value.
The state will not file a claim when there is a surviving spouse, there is a surviving child under 21 years of age, there is a child who is blind or totally disabled, or where there is a an unmarried child living in the Medicaid recipient’s homestead for at least one year prior to the death. The state also allows a hardship waiver to be filed in certain situations.
The State will not collect certain types of assets that fall outside a person’s estate. Therefore it may be necessary to do your estate planning with consideration given to Medicaid rules.
The personal representative of an estate (executor or administrator) is required by law to give the State of Texas notice of Medicaid recipient’s death thereby allowing the state to file a claim. Such a claim by the State of Texas is a Class 7 claim which is paid after funeral bills, administration expenses, secured claims, child support, taxes, and it is paid before all other creditors and before the beneficiaries are compensated.
The Department of Aging and Disability Services administers the MERP and they provide a wonderful guide for those with additional questions.
Beware: Texas law does not require CPR in senior living facilities
Earlier this month, the news reported on a 911 call that was taken by a nurse in California who refused to give emergency CPR assistance to a dying senior in her care. The refusal of this nurse to assist a dying resident is nothing less than shocking, however, the facility was within its rights to refuse care.
In Texas, facilities, even licenses facilities such as those regulated by Adult Protective Services, have the option of not providing CPR. However, they are required to notify individuals during the admissions policy process that they will not administer CPR.
The question is whether notifying people upon admissions is reasonable. It is likely that facilities around the state have a form that is signed during admissions stating they are aware of the policy of the facility. However, during the admissions process, there are tons of documents to sign and many people do not even read them. Does this constitute notice?
Does the nurses refusal to administer aid constitute a criminal case in Texas? Failure to stop and render aid (FSRA) is governed by Chapter 550 of the Texas Transportation Code. The penal code typically governs criminal offenses resulting in possible confinement and a conviction for FSRA can result in jail time, probation and a fine. However the Texas nurse is not likely guilty of FSRA because the rules are pretty clear that the facility is not required to provide CPR. If this were you or me, we would be required if we knew CPR. Funny! So beware of the facilities policy before you place your love one in a senior living facility!
Alzheimer’s Disease claims another victim
Arlington police have confirmed that the body found on January 5, 2013 was that of Maria Arrocha, an Alzheimer’s patient who was reported missing in December. The Tarrant County Medical Examiner ruled that Maria Arrocha died from exposure to the elements. Arrocha was found near the 1500 block of E. Abram Street near Stadium Drive in east Arlington. Officers were searching for Maria Arrocha who has been missing since Dec. 18, said Arlington police Sgt. Christopher Cook.
More than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s or similar dementias, and that number is expected to rise rapidly as the baby boomers age. The Texas adult population with disabilities has grown to 1,683,350, which is a 300,000 jump in the last 10 years. As more and more of our citizens, reach retirement age there are going to be more dementia related problems.
Therefore, both the Texas House and Senate 2013 budget plans include $5.2 million for the Darrell K Royal Alzheimer’s initiative in 2014. The private fund, announced last year to spur Alzheimer’s research, was named for the iconic University of Texas football coach who died in November after living with dementia for several years.