Property That Medicaid Applicant Was Unable to Sell Is Countable Resource

An Ohio appeals court rules that a Medicaid applicant’s parcels of land are countable resources even though the applicant was unable to sell the property. Cowan v. Ohio Dept. Jobs & Family Servs. (Ohio Ct. App., 1st Dist., No. C-200025, May 26, 2021).

Mary Cowan entered a nursing home, applied for Medicaid, and named the nursing home as her authorized representative. Ms. Cowan owned two parcels of land that she listed for sale, but for which she was unable to find buyers. The state denied her Medicaid benefits for excess resources due to the property.

Ms. Cowan appealed, arguing that because she couldn’t sell her parcels, she did not have the legal ability to access the resource. Federal SSI regulations state that a property that cannot be liquidated is not a resource. The state denied the appeal, and Ms. Cowan appealed to court. The trial court dismissed the appeal, ruling that because the nursing home hired Ms. Cowan’s attorney, the nursing home was acting for Ms. Cowan and it lacked standing to bring the appeal. Alternatively, the trial court ruled that Ms. Cowan had excess resources. Ms. Cowan appealed

The Ohio Court of Appeals, First District, affirms, holding that the state properly denied Ms. Cowan’s Medicaid application for excess resources, although it rejects the trial court’s ruling on standing. The appeals court rules that even if the nursing home hired the attorney, it was not listed as a party to the appeal, so there was no reason to question Ms. Cowan’s standing. However, the court further holds that the federal SSI regulation does not apply to the state Medicaid case. According to the court, under state Medicaid law, “if the applicant has the legal authority to sell the property, the plain language of the Code renders it a countable resource. . .”

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