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Start now with long-term care planning

Nobody wants to learn that they have a degenerative disease that will slowly strip their body functions and mental faculties from them. It's probably one of the most devastating occurrences anyone could ever endure. But Colorado residents receive these diagnoses just as people everywhere do.

The Affordable Care Act in its original form intended to provide some relief to the disabled and elderly with a long-term care planning provision. Congress stripped away that benefit, leaving states to their own devices to determine which populations of people would receive Medicaid coverage.

A recent American Association of Retired Persons report determined that only 24 states boosted the percentage of Medicaid money targeted for community and home-based services even when 90 percent of senior citizens prefer those options to being institutionalized for their care. Colorado consistently ranks in the top five states that earmark over 62 percent of their long-term care Medicaid funds to those pro-active programs that allow seniors to remain in their homes or with family members.

One problem with the Medicaid program is that the eligibility rules are by necessity very strict. Senior citizens and the disabled have to become almost destitute in order to qualify. This can become a Catch-22 situation for someone with significant assets they don’t want to squander.

The only upside to a diagnosis of something like Muscular Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s is that the usual progression of the disease is slow, thus allowing those suffering from these and other similar conditions to plan ahead for their financial and medical futures. Because it can be difficult to know and follow the complex rules of the Deficit Reduction Act, which governs asset transfers from one individual to another, a legal professional is a good source of advice and guidance during these trying times.

Source: Source: USA TODAY, "Without federal action, states move on long-term care," Michael Ollove, July 3, 2014

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