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We live in WV. My mom has been in a nursing home for over a year using Medicaid. She is allowed $50 per month for personal care. Plus ...enough monthly to pay for her extra health insurance premium. She has a house. Her husband, my dad, has been deceased since 1988, and no one lives in her house. I, her son, am on her checking account so I can write checks for her qualified expenses. She has about $1,400 each month at this time in the account above her amount for the nursing home cost and allowed expenses per month. I wrote from her account a check for her real estate taxes for this year. Should I ask the state DHHR for that amount to be refunded to her? Also, I received recently a statement from her home insurance carrier for the premium due on that insurance. I know her house will be sold once she passes, and that entire amount will be taken as part of her estate since her medicaid expenses, while she's been in the nursing home, will be more than her entire estate is worth. My question is, is she required to keep home owners insurance on her house? If so, is that premium amount a qualified expense that I should ask DHHR to reimburse her for? Of course that amount is for several hundred dollars and would take most of the extra money she has left in her checking account.

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loghut, think of it this way, your Mom's house is going to pay for her care either now or after the fact. Is your Mom in a nursing home that accepts private pay patients and Medicaid patients? If the answer is yes, there your Mom can stay in that nursing home no matter how the bill is paid.

But I can understand you wanting to keep the family home and not sell it. It all depends on the final cost that Medicaid would want. Right now no one knows what that will be. If the final bill is less than what the house is worth, then your Mom would have money to pass on to the family. On the other hand if the final cost for Medicaid is more than what the house is worth, all that caring for the house, winterizing it, property taxes, time used checking on the house, chasing out the mice that love vacant property, etc. would time you could never reclaim.

Your wife has an excellent idea, talk this over with an Elder Law Attorney to see what would be the best way to deal with the family home. He/She might have other ideas.

Yes, property taxes would have to be paid, otherwise the County or City/Town government would seize the property and sell it at auction. You definitely don't want that to happen.
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Real estate questions aside, I just wanted to comment about how your dealing with your mothers demise. I'm impressed with the compassionate and common sense way you are handling this tough time. Most of us will be facing the issue of how much bad news to share with elders. I think you must be a pretty good son. Thanks for your comments.
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Thanks again to all of you that replied. It's so true, and sad, how this has worked out on my home place. The place my dad worked hard to pay for, and make a home for his little family. A home to keep his family safe and sound, and happy he thought. My dad would be heart broken if he was alive today and knew what's going on.

My dear sweet mom lays in bed probably twenty hours or more a day now, in a NH with having the late stages of dementia. Her kidneys are at 30% function. Her organs are starting to fail. She eats some of one meal a day. She's losing weight and getting weaker every day. She doesn't know her oldest son passed way in April. It was my decision not tell her. Why put her through that pain and grief. No way could I could let her know the truth about her sons passing, or that her house is setting empty.

She has a will. Leaving her house to her sons. It was to be sold after her death, dividing the proceeds and her estate equally between us brothers. Now, my one younger brother and I, we get nothing.

I gave strict notice to everyone that sees or talks to her, that's not many, to keep these events from her. Why have her die grieving more that she has to? She's to the point that home to her is where she grew up as a child. She gets very confused, so I keep things simple as can be for her. Just kind of roll with what she is focusing on at the time I see and talk to her in short simple terms. It changes from day to day what she has on her mind. I'm blessed up to now she still knows me, and my wife. Don't know how long that will last.

In reading some of your replies, some of you don't understand I can't sell her house. If we put it up for sell her Medicaid stops. The market value of the house is like she has that much money. Then I'd have to remove her from the NH, or pay out of pocket for it. She needs 24/7 I can't give her. Plus I can't afford the $8,000 per month for private pay for the NH. Sad isn't it?
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Freqflyer - the bigger issue with a traditional homeowners policy is that it requires the homeowner to live in the house for the policy to be valid. Some older policies could have extended away allowed but most do not. They would need instead a Vacant Dwelling policy, which is essentially a fire policy. It will cover contents as an rider & there are riders for houses on the market as well. The Allstates, State Farms really don't underwrite VDP's. It will be a speciality carrier and they can be choosy. Minimum seems to be 100k value and done in100k increments for 6 mo period. The VDP I found were all 3 X's the cost of the old homeowners. I needed my Letters Testamentary to get the policy to be "estate of" also.

Insurance co if they find out that the owner has moved, or is not a true owner of the property (like its via a Quit claim), or policy in the DPOAs name...they could invalidate the policy & not honor a claim. Not pretty.
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I sympathise with how frustrating this situation must be. You're doing your responsible best to manage your mother's financial affairs properly, and everything seems to conspire to make it complicated and difficult. Medicare/aid being well out of my province, I too was going to suggest shopping around on the insurance policy for a better value product, with just a caveat that insurers tend not to like properties being left empty - so watch they don't hike the premium on that. But in any case, your mother's insurance premium on your mother's house should be paid with your mother's money - you shouldn't be out of pocket at all.

I too would want to get shot of the place; it's just a great pity that doing so now rather than after your mother's passing would be a bureaucratic nightmare, it seems.
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I would check with the homeowner insurance company to see what would they recommend. I would think there should be some type of liability insurance active in case someone gets hurt on the property. Some homes are vacant, yet furniture and stuff remains, but the person going door-to-door to sell something doesn't know that.... oops, his or her leg goes through the rotting wood on the front porch.
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Loghut - your mom did not give up her rights when she applied for medicaid. The state cannot force her to keep her home; it cannot keep her from selling it. But the state can & is required to attempt a recovery of any of her assets after death or a suspension of her eligibility when her assets exceed whatever the limits are for WVa.

They have to basically be impoverished to be eligible for Medicaid. If the states won't allow a sale, then that would mean that all those on NH medicaid would have homes delinquent on taxes (& then going up for tax sale & then tax redemption); homes fined for blight; homes empty & ripe to be vandalized & set afire....l

Or a meth lab or a moonshine still....

Family is under NO requirement to pay squat on their parents property. You could take the hard line that it's not your problem and walk on anything related to the property.

I would guess that the local caseworker - likely a low wage low education state employee - cannot understand nor provide any insight into the detailed legal rules regarding assets. Here's my suggestion....over the weekend do a letter addressed to whomever is the commissioner of your DHHS that mom who is impoverished but a legal resident of WVa and registered voter who is now living in a NH LTC Medicaid has a home (put in current 60k or whatever to the penny is the tax assessor value & put in its parcel #) and as Medicaid requires all her monthly income less $50 a month, she has no funds to maintain the property and you as DPOA want the regulations and procedure to sell it that are compliant for Medicaid. Keep the letter a single page BUT with CC to the local tax assessor, your local Area on Aging head, the NH ombudsman, your state senator & state rep & your Congressman. You can google up these names. You mail the DHHS one via certified mail with the return registered receipt card (green postcard) from uspo. Will run about $ 8.00 & the best eight you have spent! The CC letters you can just send via snail mail. This establishes your attempt to do your fiduciary duty on the property. if you can find the fax # for DHHS, I'd fax the letter over as well...if you fax make sure where you do this provides a transmission report. You must get a transmission report. Faxes are legal verification as is the RRR from uspo btw.

This site has a drop down list of all the Area on Aging for the states. Btw AoA are your tax $ at work. AoA are a segment of Council of Governments. COG exist all over the US as they are clearinghouses or funnels for federal & grant funding to state & private programs. There will be someone at the AOA that can get something going on this with you if the caseworker is unable to or unwilling to do any work on this situation. COG employees usually have higher education & expertise. NH ombudsman programs are usually out of the AOA/COG.

Honey I feel for you; you are trying to do the "right" thing. But you don't want to find yourself spending your $ to benefit the state with no benefit to you. You should be able to recover your costs spent for the required on the property (taxes, insurance, maintenance). I've posted on this site about what I see as issues with how MERP was planned & is structured. In a nutshell, MERP underwent planning probably late 1990's - 2005 & this was when the housing market was booming. Crappy old hours sold for hundreds of thousands of $$$. Low income folks could qualify for 500/800k homes. houses were little gold mines. Even grannies 1940's house with decades of delayed maintenance could sell for hundreds of thousands. In theory, it could sell for enough to pay off medicaid with plenty of $ to go to heirs as well. MERP was going to clean up and recover enough to pay the states medicaid costs. Everybody makes out....everybody happy! Then housing market collapsed. Foreclosures & short sales are still with us from all this. Grannies old crappy house is just that & because how NH medicaid requires grannie to do a copay (her SOC), grannies has no $ for house...house gets tax leins, no maintenance, gets blight & code fines. Crappy old house becomes even more crappy. The states aren't set up to deal with blighted old low value houses filled with old grannies stuff. It's not like your moms house is next to The Greenbriar, now is it?!? They have to let you sell the house. If WVa is actually going all hardazz on this, you can do what folks did on foreclosed houses...you mail (certified with RRR) them the keys and walk. No es su problema....

Let us know how this shakes out ok? Thanks.
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I just considered the human side of this, too. For some people selling their homes would hurt them so much and take away the joy that have in the hope of going home again. My mother would be inconsolable if she learned someone sold her home. And unless she is totally incompetent, the house couldn't be sold without her say-so.
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I think you are just like most people in this situation, we're not looking for a payday or a way to scam medicaid, just trying to care for elders and abide by the regs.

After talking to friends in similar situations and reading all the info on this thread (amazing knowledge shared here BTW) the sad fact is that it's difficult, not impossible, to sell or rent a vacant house without jumping through all the hoops. Most folks I talk to do little or no upkeep, cancel utilities and HOI. I know of no laws requiring HOI to be maintained unless there's a mortgage and the lender requires it.

I'm in Mi but my folks are in WV. I'm trying to ease them into care and out if the house. When that happens I'll close the place up, disconnect the utilities, cancel the insurance and haveva nephew mow the grass and keep an eye on the place.

I'm not interested in paying a financial advisor or attorney fees to try and come out ahead somehow on a crappy little house that will be a shove down when the estate is sold.
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Thanks for all the opinions, suggestions, and information. I've called our DHHR for answers I hoped for on the tax and HOI questions, but so far all I got was a voice mail and no call back, yet. In this situation it's only me, my one surviving brother, and our mom. I/we, had another brother that lived in the house with mom before and after she went to the NH. She went into the NH in April of 2014. He lived in the house alone after that, until he died in April of this year.

I have a POA for my mom. I've taken care of mom's house, mowing, etc. I paid for her utilities, real estate taxes, and HOI, up until now using from the money she was allowed to have, $2,000, before the medicaid kicked in. She still has about $1,200 or so of that $2,000 in her joint checking account that I'm on too. I've only used money from that account for those costs, care for her or the house. But because the house has been empty since my older brother passed, and I was told by the DHHR from the get go that I CAN'T SELL OR RENT THE HOUSE, I recently stopped all the utilities. No one lives in the house, or will. Because of me being told by the DHHR if I put the house up for sell, or rent, she would lose the medicaid benefits that pays for her NH expenses by medicaid. Me or my surviving brother don't use or take any of her money, except for her or the house. Or do we expect or want a thing that is hers and will be her estate that's sold and used for her past and future expenses. I'm just trying to manage her affairs the best I can within the rules and guidelines. If I just knew what they all are it would help me.

As I said, my brother and I want nothing, and know we won't get a penny from mom's estate. Her house and total estate won't pay for all her expenses paid by medicaid. The house has a market value of $60,000, maybe. Surely much less than $100,000. Just my guess. It's not trashy, and in decent condition. Just old, not a modern laid out floor plan, a nice size lot, and nice separate large block garage. The heat is a almost new central gas unit. But a old central A/C. As I mentioned, I've mowed all year, or paid for it to be done at times when I was away on trips, etc. And had the utilities stopped because of her dwindling funds. Yes, because we have cold freezing winters I will go there soon and winterize the house. Draining the water lines as best I can, and put antifreeze in the drain lines to prevent freezing and bursting lines.

As mentioned earlier, my brother and I know when she passes all her estate will be sold and the proceeds taken by the government because of her expenses exceeds the value for the estate. We just need to know do we HAVE TO continue the HOI and paying real estate taxes, even after her personal funds are gone? We, my brother and I, don't want to buy the house. Neither of us has the money to do that. But we don't want to use our money to pay for the house expenses either, if we don't have to. The way we see it, we don't get it after she passes, or anything of her estate. So why should we pay for the upkeep on it for the government? I've keep the outside looking decent, by mowing, etc., since our older brother passed. Why should I be expected to do more?

My brother and I excepted the fact before we had to have mom put in the NH, that we'd never get anything from our old home place. Our parents estate. We know that and have just moved on from that thought in our minds. But at the same time, I know I have to do whatever the rules are set by the government. State and/or federal. I guess as my wife said to me yesterday, maybe I need to spend some of my own money and get advice from a lawyer? Especially since it seems I'm not getting the answers from the DHHR. Plus I don't know where else to get the true facts on the guidelines here in WV. I'm not in this to use her money, or take what belongs to the state or federal government. I just want to take care of our mom and her affairs as best I can. Do wants right, and legal.

Thanks to all for your information, etc. I appreciate it very much.
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pieceofcrap, there is an exception under federal laws for caregiving children. The requirements are pretty strict. They had to provide full time care in a way that kept the person out of a nursing home. It has to be at least two years and the house is their primary residence and cost only so much. The caregiver has to be an heir and have proof of all the requirements to apply for the exception. Different states handle this differently. Some will allow the caregiving child to have the title to the property, while others will grant a life estate. These latter states can recover money if the child decides to move or dies. (Wish rules were standard among the states for the sake of caregivers. Some states treat family caregivers better than others.)

If interest in the property were transferred to someone in order to pay them for caregiving, it should be done by an attorney with all the contracts in place. Otherwise it could just look like gifting to avoid Medicaid. MERP might still put a lien on the house for the share of equity owned by the patient after death. I don't know how this would work.
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Windy, only if it's profitable!
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Just reread the OP and realize she is already out of the house and in a NH. That changes everything. Sorry.
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Just thought I would throw this out there - What about tenants in common, with shared ownership of the home. In exchange for living in the house and taking care of Mom, this person is reimbursed with homeowner partnership - equally owning the home with mom. When she passes they will still have a legal vested interest in the home. Not carrying HOI is always a very bad idea.
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I apologize in advance, for Windy's sense of humor.

Study the meaning of Indemnify. If you were to administrate the assets of your mom, if only to protect them from loss for Medicaid to receive them, that would be the ethical and responsible way to act on your mothers behalf, keeping the insurance until sold.
Don't get me wrong, I am for taking every legal measure and financial planning means allowable to use your mom's assets for herself, her own needs. But don't cheat the government, nor treat them as a friend.
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I think Medicaid would, Windy.
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Would medicaid allow a meth lab?

Sorry............
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loghut and windy, I would read and re-read what Igloo had to say. She knows what she is talking about. Personally under the situation being discussed here, with no one wanting the house and the equity all going to MERP in the end, I would put the house on the market and have any equity applied toward healthcare for my parent. Then she could reapply for Medicaid after any money resulting from the sale was spent on her care.
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LOGHUT, I'm in MI nut my folks are in WV. I could well be facing the same situation with a vacant house soon. Thought maybe have my nephew move in when the folks end up in care. But just curious, was this entirely legit with your brother, under the radar?
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Also the house can be rented. I think rental less property costs just need to be below incime ceiling fir WV. If this is an older not glitzy renovated home, i would think not an issue? Now the rent has to be fair market value. If the renter is paying below that but doing specific maintenance, then it's probably ok. There are a couple of folks on this site who have their parents homes rented and all ok for Medicaid. So perhaps they will share how that's been structured.
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Logout - I'm going to approach this from a different viewpoint......what ideally do you want to become of the house? Are the costs on the home 100&1% affordable from your pocketbook both now and after moms death & through the probate period? What exemptions, exclusions or limitations does MERP have in your state? And what is the worst case scenario if you or whomever is moms executor has to deal with MERP (estate recovery)?

Medicaid rules allow by & large for them to keep their home as an exempt asset for their lifetime. When they die, house then becomes nonexempt asset of the estate & subject to a required attempt of the recovery of costs paid by medicaid for the elder required by MERP provisions of the deficit reduction act (DRA) signed by Bush in 2006. All states have this but all states manage their Medicaid program uniquely as stare laws on property rights, death, probate vary.

As you know Medicaid requires mom to do a copay of all her income to the NH less her $ 50. The $ 50 is usually referred to as the PNA - personal needs allowance. It covers hair salon, clothing replacement. In some NH, there is a monthly charge for phone or cable that magically is the exact amount of the PNA too. PNA varies from $ 35 - 105 by state. MN & FL are the $ 105 states!

Now if you as mom's DPOA want to save up her PNA to pay the house costs you can. But then any of moms other costs, like toiletries, beauty shoppe, you pay for. Most ladies use the PNA for the 2-3 times a mo at the NH beauty shoppe as it is the social centre.....keeping moms house basically means family has to pay for whatever the costs of the home is and from now till whenever.

You can sell the home and although it will take her off Medicaid as the $ from the sale will give her over 2K in assets; then she either does the spend-down or reinbursement for prior costs, and then, she gets back onto Medicaid. If when you take pen to paper and really take a hard look at the house costs and find that you flat cannot afford it, then realistically you need to sell the house.

Folks do this all the time. If you do, clearly speak with the caseworker about IF there is the possibility for a diversion of some of moms SOC to go to the costs to have the house on the market. What I have heard for TX medicaid is that this can be done but limited to 6mos on a empty home with a MLS listing agreement with a Realtor with the amt set by the state. If WV does not allow for this family either basically pays all the costs on the home with no reinbursement from the sale OR does some sort of legal agreement with mom as to payment on costs of sale from the proceeds. If mom is kinda not cognitive then the DPOA could do this but the DPOA cannot be the one paying and then themselves being reinbursed. Comprende? Most of the time family just themselves pays all the costs on their parents home with no compensation if it's sold when the parents are still alive.

Now if you can afford the costs on the home, and likely afford it for years, that is different. If so, you need to find out what your state allows for exceptions, exclusions and cost-benefit analysis parameters for MERP. Then, Which of those allowed for your state could come into play for your situation? You are going to have to be totally OCD in documentation to the penny on all costs on the empty property. You will have to do whatever is required under your fiduciary duty too.....this is what JessieBelle & Garden are getting at. If not, the exemption or deductions for costs can be disallowed.

Vacant dwelling policies are very very expensive IF one can be written. They are fire policies. The state farms won't do them. It will be a speciality carrier and done usually for 6 mos in 100k minimum for around 1k - $ 1,500. I have one for my moms house and it was able to be done as there was no lapse from her old homeowners to the VDP. If there had been, I could not have gotten one.

To me keeping your parents home is like having a 2nd home but without true ownership so runs a risk. Most of us cannot afford a 2nd home & most of us are risk adverse. If the house has a high value (is close to the maximum allowed by Medicaid at 500K/750K), then if they are in a NH the average 2.5 years, probably everybody can get their $ from its sale (merp & heirs). If the house is low value (maybe under 60K), and family has maintenance & other deductions or exemptions and goes to the mat on MERP, you probably can get the house with some negotiation. There are a couple on this site who have done this with low value homes.

Only you can determine if the costs on the property is affordable in the long view and if there is so something about the home that makes all of this worthwhile and if you have the ability (and a sense of humor enough) to deal with this from now till whenever. Personally if i couldnt afford it today, I'd cut my losses and get it on the market like mañana with a Realtor who will tell you firmly & clearly what needs to be done to get a 60 DOM (days on market) closing. And clearly find out from the caseworker just how WV handles the proceeds of the sale at closing so no glitches from title search and at closing.
Let us know what happens too. Good luck.
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To add to my answers to the above questions, in WV we can't sell the house while my mother is still living. If I do that the market value of the house is considered like money she has, and she'd lose the medicaid benefits. Also, the house can't be rented. The rent money would be treated like income. As I mentioned before, can't have but up to $2,000 total in cash. So selling the house, that's like having that much cash. Same for the rent money. If you have a trusted relative, for example, to live in the house rent free, and pay their utilities and keep the house up, but no money exchanged, fine. We had that with my older brother until this past spring. But he died and that ended that. It's hard to find a trusted individual to live in a house in this situation. Knowing when my mother passes, and no idea when that could happen of course, they'd have to move out right away. Keyword, trusted.
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As for there being some money in my mother's checking account, in WV you're allowed to have up to $2,000 when applying for medicaid. My mom still has some of that after spending for clothing, etc., since she's been in the NH for the past 18 months. Yes, the DHHR keeps tabs on her bank account to make sure it never decides the allowed $2,000. I used her account to pay for taxes on the house and homeowners insurance, up to now. I called her DHHR case worker today but I just got the voice mail and no call back yet. I am going to ask for answers for the insurance and real estate tax expenses. I'll reply here with answers when I get them.
Thanks for all your answers and suggestions, there are very much appreciated.
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That is true. Would the family be required to pay it, or is there some special concession that would let the person with Medicaid pay it in WV?
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If there's a mortgage on the house, homeowners insurance would generally be required. If a fire occurs, the mortgagee (lender) would expect that the house (its collateral) would be protected.
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It is my understanding that any maintenance, upkeep, and taxes are the responsibility of the heirs if they don't want to sell the house. I wondered how your mother has $1400 extra each month in her account if she is on Medicaid. My understanding is that SS and pension are paid for NH care and Medicaid supplements the rest, leaving a small personal allowance. Many people opt to sell the house, since keeping up a house that is not in use is too expensive.

If you spend any personal money for taxes and upkeep of the property, be sure to keep receipts. You can file for reimbursement when the house sells if you keep it until after you mother passes.

Things may be different in WV, since Medicaid varies state to state. You may want to check on who is responsible for paying housing expenses while your mother is in the NH.
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Yes, the house needs to have homeowner's insurance in case of fire or if someone goes onto the property and becomes injured. Please note that a vacant house require MORE insurance because no one is there on a regular live-in basis to make sure everything is ok and there is no vandalism.

Otherwise if the insurance company isn't notified the house is vacant and something does happen, the insurance company might not pay the claim.

Make sure the house is winterized once the weather becoming freezing... you don't want a broken water pipe. Right there is one reason homeowner insurance is much higher for vacant houses.
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Don't have any easy answeres for you but thought I'd post and get you question back in the running. Hopefully some more knowledable people will respond. Had to help out a fellow Hillbilly! Looked at your profile, I grew up a few miles from you.
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I used to work for legal services in WV. I suggest that you contact the local area agency on aging and talk to someone better versed in the state dhhs laws. There are also ombudsmen in nursing homes that can help you find where to get the answers - if they can't answer them for you.
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