Hurley Elder Care Law Newsletter - July 2018
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July 2018   
Georgia’s Medicaid Changes in 2018
The rules for Georgia’s Medicaid program change constantly. These rules, however, rarely change in our clients’ favor. In 2006, the state implemented the Medicaid Estate Recovery Program and the 60-month look back period for transfer of assets. In 2018, however, it has brought two surprising changes for our clients and for all nursing home residents on Medicaid: a $15 Increase in the Personal Needs Allowance and $25,000 Exemption for Medicaid Estate Recovery. 

The $15 Increase in the Personal Needs Allowance
For many years, nursing home residents that use Medicaid benefits are only allowed to keep $50 of their income. The rest of their income is used to pay for the nursing home, health insurance premiums, medical expenses and spousal diversions (if applicable). This $50 personal needs allowance is all that Georgia Medicaid beneficiaries have to pay for clothing, snacks, cable, cell phones, and other incidentals.  We have not seen an increase to the personal needs allowance in years.  The 2019 budget, which takes effect July 1, 2018, included a small increase to the personal needs allowance. It is now $65/month.
The $25,000 Exemption for Medicaid Estate Recovery
SB 370 was passed and signed into law by the governor. This bill will exempt the first $25,000 from being claimed by Medicaid Estate Recovery.  Currently, the estate of any deceased person that received Medicaid benefits to pay for long-term services and support (or Nursing Home Medicaid) can be impacted by Medicaid Estate Recovery if that estate is worth at least $25,000.  This means that if a person who used Medicaid to pay for nursing home care dies while owning a home worth $30,000, the state can try to recoup the money they spent on that person’s behalf by placing a lien on the house for up to the entire value of the house.  If the house were only worth $24,000, no lien would be placed on the house. This new law changes this situation so that the first $25,000 of a person’s estate would be exempt from Medicaid Estate Recovery; so in the case of the $30,000, the state could only make a claim for up to $5,000 (the value of the home – the $25,000 exemption). This law will go into effect when/if the state Medicaid plan is amended (a process that requires approval by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services).
To read more about Medicaid Estate Recovery, please click here. 
In addition to these changes to Medicaid, the governor signed another bill that impacts nursing home residents. SB 406 is an effort to reduce elder abuse by requiring comprehensive FBI background checks and fingerprinting for employees with direct access to patients in long-term care settings (such as nursing homes, personal care homes, assisted living communities, private home care providers and adult day care centers). It also creates the Central Caregiver Registry, which will allow employers to search for caregiver background checks. Elder abuse is a huge issue in Georgia, and our leaders have been working hard to address it.  SB 406 is one of three bills that passed this year to help combat elder abuse.
The Medicaid rules are always changing. To stay up-to-date on the current rules and laws, please follow us on Facebook  and subscribe to our blog.  If you have questions about how Medicaid would work for you or someone you know, please call our office for a complimentary consultation at (404) 843-0121 or connect with us online. 

Family Business
While the majority of the Hurley employees enjoyed floating, food, and fireworks on the fourth, Danielle was completely focused on fitness! This year she ran her 7th Peachtree Road Race! 

Earlier in this month, Michelle and Louise slipped away from the office for a few days to visit our friends at the Rothkoff Law Group in New Jersey. Our staff regularly travels around the country to share best practices with other elder law firms. We would like to thank Jerry and his staff for being such wonderful hosts!

Upcoming Speaking Events and CEs
Continuing Education (CE)
*All CE topics are certified for case managers, nurses and social workers
During the presentation Hurley Elder Care Law will present information explaining the four different types of surrogate decision makers and their necessary legal documents. Ms. Humphrey will review the responsibilities of a healthcare agent and discuss factors to consider when dealing with a healthcare agent. The discussion will feature a review of ethical dilemmas that healthcare agents face and examine guidelines for making decisions on behalf of someone else. Through a series of case studies, Ms. Humphrey will discuss how healthcare professionals sometimes struggle with patient autonomy and informed consent when surrogates are involved.
11:30 AM-12:00 PM Registration & Lunch, 12:00 PM-1:00 PM CE Education, The Arbor at Bridgemill, 700 Freedom Blvd, Canton, GA 30114, RSVP: 
What healthcare documents does everyone really need and exactly how do they work? What are the repercussions of needing care and having no documents in place? What options do healthcare providers have when families need to take action? This seminar will review the essential documents every adult needs including the General Durable Power of Attorney, The Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare and various other documents that may be recommended. 
11:30 AM-12:00 PM Registration & Lunch, 12:00 PM-1:00 PM CE Education, Garden Plaza at Lawrenceville, 230 Collins Industrial Way, Lawrenceville, GA 30043, RSVP: 
Knowing the options available and planning for the unexpected loss in functional and cognitive capacity is the best way for healthcare professionals to advise their patients and families. The earlier you plan, the more options are available. Dementia is hard enough when there is a plan in place; dementia with no plan will leave families exhausted, stressed and financially distressed.
5:30 PM-6:00 PM Registration & Dinner, 6:00 PM-7:00 PM CE Education, Sunrise Ivey Ridge, 2950 Old Alabama Road, Alpharetta, GA 30022, RSVP:
Community Events
Wednesday, August 29- Join Joanna Hurley of Hurley Elder Care Law as she presents "You Don't Know What You Don't Know" at Freeman Poole Senior Center
The options for paying for long-term care are limited. Did you know that Medicare will not pay for home care or assisted living community care? Do you know what Medicaid provides? Most families do not realize their limited options until they are in a crisis—usually when their loved one is about to be discharged from a hospital. Making decisions while in a crisis can be stressful and result in bad choices. This seminar is intended to provide information prior to a crisis. Learn how to best find, get and pay for good long-term care.
1:00 PM- 2:00 PM, Freeman Poole Senior Center, 4025 South Hurt Road, Smyrna, GA 30082, RSVP: Merline Beavil, 770-801-3400

For more details and a complete list of upcoming events, please visit Hurley Elder Care Law Community Education.
Recent Blogs
Elder Loneliness- How do I approach the issue and help a loved one?

Problematic Siblings- How having a brother or sister can make it worse...
Three Generations- Part of what makes Hurley Elder Care Law so special!

Elder Care Resources
Nursing Home Medicaid- Can I give my assets to my spouse?

Medicaid Look Back Period- A few tips from the experts.

Helping Our Own Families- When elder care professionals face aging issues within their own families.

Miles P. Hurley, JD, CELA  Miles P. Hurley founded Hurley Elder Care Law in 2006 to provide legal assistance to the elderly population on issues relating to aging including retaining independence, quality of life and financial security. Mr. Hurley is one of eleven attorneys in the state of Georgia to receive the Elder Law Attorney Certification, and one of approximately 400 nationwide. 
Hurley Elder Care Law is dedicated to the process of long-term care and estate planning. 
Call us today for a free phone consultation with a client coordinator at (404) 843-0121.

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Hurley Elder Care Law
100 Galleria Pkwy, Suite 650
Atlanta, GA 30339

Satellite Offices
2011 Commerce Dr. Suite 100, Peachtree City, GA 30269   
225 Creekstone Ridge, Woodstock, GA 30188       
6340 Sugarloaf Pkwy. Suite 200, Duluth, GA 30097

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