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New Jersey Senate committee clears way for federal Medicaid funds

NAELA National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc. MEMBER

There has been a lot of talk over the last few years about how federal health care reforms will affect the current state of benefit programs. One major component of the reform, known popularly as "Obamacare," is to provide federal funding for an expansion of the Medicaid program. In early May, New Jersey's Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee voted to allow federal funds to come to the state.

As this effort progresses, many might wonder how changes to the program will impact New Jersey resident's efforts to begin the Medicaid planning process.

The expansion of the program will provide health care coverage to a much larger number of New Jersey residents, with estimates ranging between 104,000 and 234,000 new enrollees. In addition, it would end up saving the state many millions of dollars over the course of the year.

By expanding the Medicaid program, which is administered by the state, people who are at or near the poverty line will now have medical coverage, which is something that's important to people who are near or past the age of retirement. Medicaid provides funds to people who can't afford nursing home care, which is something that is very important many people as they age.

When a person's assets dwindle down to a few thousand dollars, Medicaid funding will kick in. Unfortunately, however, the program doesn't necessarily provide enough funding to provide the kind of quality care that some people expect. The expansion of the Medicaid program will not necessarily provide higher-quality nursing home care; rather, it allows more people to join the program.

Without a plan in place, individuals and their loved ones could become caught off guard by the costs associated with nursing home care and what options exist for coverga. Yet legal options, such as Medicaid planning, are available to help make sure people have the funds available when they are needed.

Source: NJBIZ.com, "Medicaid expansion clears committee," Jared Kaltwasser, May 9, 2013

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