Feb. 1, 2006 (WorldNetDaily.com) - Churches and other recipients of charitable giving that rely on senior citizens could face severe hardship if a Medicaid rule-change tucked into a 750-page budget bill passes the House this week, advocacy groups warn.
Under current rules, a senior can give a gift to a church without affecting qualification for Medicaid assisted-living coverage, points out the conservative RightMarch.com. But the proposed legislation would take into account every donation for the five years preceding admission to a facility.
Opponents say the change will cause hardship for families of faithful givers who would face monthly nursing-home payments of $4,000 to $7,000.
Supporters argue the legislation is intended to stop wealthy seniors from transferring assets so they can qualify for the coverage by Medicaid, which was started in 1965 to assist poor families. It's the only government program that provides assistance for long-term care.
But Charles Sabatino, who runs the American Bar Association's Commission on Law and Aging, contends it's the poor and middle class who will get hurt.
"My concern here is that all the usual, normal caring family transactions that people engage in, without thinking of Medicaid, will be scooped up by this penalty," he said in an interview with National Public Radio. "… Anytime you give money away for whatever reason, you would get penalized for it."
The gifts taken into account, points out RightMarch.com, include college tuition for grandchildren; emergency help for family; Christmas, birthday, wedding and graduation presents; charitable and church donations.