Although it’s unpleasant to think about the possibility of your health declining, some form of long-term care will be part of the future for many aging Americans. Medicaid’s community care program, which facilitates home care, is undergoing a change to its eligibility requirements in 2020.

It’s important to stay informed on these matters as your estate plan will only be as effective as it is current.

What’s changing with Medicaid community care?

On April 3, 2020, New York Legislature passed a new budget which included a significant change to the Medicaid community care eligibility requirements. The new requirements extend the “lookback period” from 3 months to 30 months, meaning Medicaid will be examining financial transfers for a much longer period before the application.

What exactly does this mean?

The financial lookback period is basically an accounting of your finances. To qualify for Medicaid, you must meet the income requirement. However, many individuals transfer funds to family or future beneficiaries in anticipation of their application to get within the income range.

This newly extended lookback period means that individuals and families will have to plan farther ahead and make any necessary gifts or transfers further in advance to ensure they happen outside the 30-month lookback period. Estate planning, therefore, is more crucial than ever in New York for individuals with health risks or who want to prepare for the possibility of long-term home care in the Medicaid program.

When does the new lookback period go into effect?

The new eligibility requirements go into effect on October 1, 2020. Individuals who anticipate needing home care through Medicaid in the near future should make necessary financial transfers before these new regulations apply to avoid penalties.