Wall Street Journal Editorializes Against Medicaid Planning

[This article was originally published on February 25, 2005.  The links were updated on August 16, 2018.]

In an editorial in its Feb. 24 issue, the Wall Street Journal condemns the practice of shifting assets to qualify for Medicaid coverage of nursing home care, and calls for further limits on the strategy.

While acknowledging that Medicaid planning is perfectly legal, the Journal opposes it because Medicaid "was never intended as a middle-class entitlement or as inheritance protection for the children of well-off seniors."

To prove its point that Medicaid planning is widespread, the Journal invites readers to use a Web search engine like Google and "see what pops up." "There's a whole 'elderlaw' industry out there dedicated to the children of seniors who want to make sure that other taxpayers, not they, pay for nursing-home care via Medicaid should mom or dad ever need it," the Journal declares.

The editorial suggests that seniors should be encouraged to buy long-term care insurance, such as through the expansion of state "Partnership" programs that allow long-term care policy buyers to protect assets and qualify for Medicaid when the policy runs out. The Journal also endorses what it says is the Bush administration's desire to change Medicaid's look-back law, so that the three-year grace period for giving away assets doesn't begin until a senior enters a nursing home or goes on Medicaid. The Journal also calls on Congress to consider other measures, including eliminating the home exemption and requiring seniors who need long-term care to take out reverse mortgages to pay for it.

For more on state "Partnership" programs, click here.