If my father and I have a joint account, can Medicare take the money out of it when he enters a nursing home?

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My father is a retired military person with TriCare for Life benefits. He is currently in a skilled nursing facility. I understand that if his Medicare runs out that TriCare will only pick up the costs if it is determined that his continued residence is "medically necessary." If this is not the case, and he must resort to a nursing home, can the state/Medicaid access funds in a joint banking account? What about properties he divested himself of by making gifts of them within the past year?

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Where ever your father has to be, he is expected to pay as much of his way himself as he can. For example, if he gets a SS check or a pension, that needs to go toward the costs, with an allowance for his personal expenses. The rest of the costs can be paid out of his assets until the assets run out and then Medicaid will kick in. As Lilliput said, Medicaid has rules about how much assets a recipient can keep. To reach that level, the money can be "spent down" on such things as a nice wheelchair, a new wardrobe, new furniture for the SNF, etc. Giving it away is not one of the options. In fact, Medicaid will look at how any signifanct assets were disposed of in the last 5 years. Since the bank account is joint, I'm not sure how that is counted as an asset -- all of it, half of it, based on who made deposits -- I just don't know that, but it will definitely be counted as an asset in some way.

A social worker where your father is now can help you get started on the application process. If the financial situation is complicated you may benefit from also consulting a professional, as Lilliput suggested.
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Medicaid has strict income and asset limits. When you file for Medicaid you are saying that you do not have the funds to cover your medical expenses. There is currently a 5 year look back period for all income and assets. There are some things that are exempt from this rule, like certain insurance policies and if you had been living in your father's home, as his caregiver, I do not believe that they would take the house.
I believe that joint accounts are considered income. Also, you can "spend down" until you reach the qualifying limit.
It would be best to consult a financial advisor or attorney who specializes in this area.
(btw, if he has "medically necessary" housing needs that would qualify for a nursing home, why would he not qualify for an assisted living center?? Make his doctor aware of this ins. requirement and have him draw up a letter stating his medical needs in detail.)
good luck
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