Can the state come after money from home to pay back for free caregiver program once person dies?

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My dad has Parkinson's and dementia and we have a free caregiver from a program. We just found out that once he and my mom pass away state can recoup the $ from my parents house since the house is paid off and has equity in it. I was shocked cause I know there are ppl out there who qualify for free care but I wonder if State can do that . We live in Illinois . Thank u sooo much.

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We received MERP from HMS in TX but our was not in Nursing Home and not on medicaid. We did have a home aide that came a few times a week for about 2 yrs.. How much do you think they will try to take? The house is worth less than 50K?
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I would suggest getting in touch with a good Elder Law Attorney. Unfortunately, there is not much that can save an estate from MERP. And with IL near bankruptcy - they are looking for everything they can get. There is a 5 year look bak - so assets cannot be sold or transferred. We saw a good Elder Law attorney and found out there will likely be nothing left. Just the way it is.
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your states Dept of Human Services, or Department of Aged & Elderly or whatever your state calls it's Department of health services for low income or elderly program should have the basic details on MERP. Google your states governmental site to find out more.

You can also contact your Area Agency on Aging. Each county (and therefore every city or town) belongs to a COG - Council of Governments. The COG gets federal funds to plan & co-ordinate federal & state programs within your community. Your local Area Agency on Aging will be part of your COG. Their services are free. The ombudsman (an advocate) for residents of NH will be part of the Area on Aging as well as other programs and outreach for the elderly, aged or disabled. On the internet type in Council of Governments and your state's name and there will be a list. Like South Carolina has 10, Texas has 24. Google yours and call them. Most COG have multi-lingual employees too if there is a English language issue for your parents or if not can arrange for translations & interpreter. Good luck.
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Thank you sooo much. This is very confusing and we don't know which direction to turn. Do you know of any helpful websites that I should look at ?
Thank you
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I think what you are referring to is MERP - Medicaid Estate Recovery Program.

All states are required to have MERP in place in order for them to participate and get funding for Medicaid. When your parents applied for a Medicaid program there will be some sort of acknowledgement of the fact that MERP exists. Just exactly how this is done depends on how your state runs it's Medicaid program. They do not have to sign off an agreement on the house. For my mom (who is in a NH on Medicaid) it was a 1/3 of a page paragraph in her overall Medicaid application and on page 3 of her annual recertification. If you don't sign it, it makes no difference as it is an acknowledgment of fact. By accepting Medicaid, you accept the terms.

The states manage or administer Medicaid under an overall federal guidelines. Somewhere in your states Dept of Human Services, or Department of Aged & Elderly or whatever your state calls it's health services for low income or elderly program there should be the details on MERP. Google your states site to find out more.

The regulations for Medicaid programs require some sort of recoup or repayment. For the elderly that are on Medicaid, they have no assets exempt for their home. So getting the proceeds from the sale of the home is the only way for the program to do a recoup. To what degeree this is done - like whether it is via a lien on the property or a claim against the estate - depends on your state's laws on probate, property or death. Whether the house is paid off or has a mortgage makes no difference in whether MERP is done, but will make a difference in the amount that MERP can get. BUT it is important to know that all MERP programs have lots of specific exemptions that can be filed for to either release MERP's claim or lien or decrease the MERP claim. If you have exemptions, you have to file for this and within the time-frame set by your state. If only your dad gets a Medicaid program for his care and he dies before your mom, then your mom can file an surviving spouse exemption and MERP sends her a release of their claim. She gets the house and MERP cannot do a claim against it. But you have to reply to whatever MERP sends you after he dies and respond to it within their set time. If mom later on applies for Medicaid, then the house goes back into the MERP possiblity system.

Not all Medicaid programs are subject to MERP. It tends to be for NH care, mental health care at a facility or in a program, or community based programs provided on a regular basis at someone's home. The womens' infants & children's programs on Medicaid are not included in MERP. You know if it is possible to have dad's care switched to a hospice provider - that would then be covered by MediCARE and not subject to any estate recovery as it is not paid for by Medicaid. So look into that. Good luck.
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