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Paying for Senior Living in Illinois

Sep 14, 2012 at 12:12

For those planning on making the move into senior living, it can often be a stressful experience, especially when it comes to sorting out the financial details. For low-income residents of Illinois, the financial aspect became even more difficult with the passage of new laws regarding eligibility requirements for Medicaid and long-term care in early 2012. Although the rules have changed, it is still possible for many residents to receive assistance with the costs of senior living, but it helps to be informed to know if you are eligible.

Changes in Illinois Medicaid

The new rules for Medicaid eligibility affect anyone going into a nursing home, assisted living, or receiving home health care. The changes hit senior couples the hardest, such as a situation when one spouse goes into skilled nursing care and the other remains at home. The previous law allowed the community spouse to retain the federal maximum in assets and income, with annual Consumer Price Index increases. Now those amounts are frozen at the 2010 federal maximum amounts of $109,560 in assets and income of $2739 per month. Also, if the community spouse refuses to disclose their available resources to the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, who oversees Medicaid in the state, the other spouse can be denied eligibility for long-term care support. For those who own their own homes, the amount of equity allowed under the new rules has been reduced from $750,000 down to $525,000. Another significant change in the law concerns retroactive eligibility and what is counted towards the three month retroactivity. Previously, resources used to pay for pre-paid funeral and burial contracts or legal fees were not included in the calculations, but they are now used to determine eligibility.

Senior Living and Illinois Medicaid

Illinois residents eligible for Medicaid who need skilled nursing care may choose from 738 different facilities that are licensed by the Illinois Department of Public Health. The Medicaid Long Term Care program ensures that those facilities meet certain standards of quality and are in compliance with all regulations. Eligible residents may also choose from among assisted living facilities meeting state requirements. Known as the Supportive Living Program, the aim is to ensure autonomy and wellness of those who are not in need of nursing care.

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