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Giving may come back to haunt seniors

March 25, 2006|By R. Thomas Murphy

Once again, I am writing to let your reading public know of the huge threat that Congress is creating for seniors. I speak of massive cuts and changes to the Medicaid program in the pending "Omnibus Reconciliation Deficit Reduction Act," which is currently subject to vote by Congress.

The proposed law will impose penalties on seniors who give money to their children, grandchildren, charities or pay for college or medical expenses for their family. The new rules will also increase the period of Medicaid ineligibility to five years instead of the current three years. The most devastating change will be the start date of the penalty period.

The stated goal of those who support the changes is to eliminate millionaires on Medicaid. However, if the rules pass, the only individuals who will be able to preserve any of their nest eggs will be millionaires. We need to protect our most vulnerable citizens.

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In addition, people who have equity in their homes greater than $500,000 may have to borrow against it in order to pay for nursing home costs. This means that the family farm may now be in jeopardy. So much for family values.

Individuals who have given money or property to a loved one for simple things such as paying debts, college costs, helping with family medical bills or have donated money to their church, may find that they are denied Medicaid eligibility once they need long-term care and have been impoverished by $6,000 per month nursing home bills. The AARP has stated, "Denying needed help to people because they helped others defies basic American values and should not be the law of the land."

Now the same people who gave you Medicare Part D's prescription drug benefit are contemplating enacting rule changes to the Medicaid program that would hurt hardworking Americans by denying them coverage because of innocent transfers to benefit their family or church.

The only way to stop it is to call your congressman and let him know that you oppose these changes contained in the "Omnibus Reconciliation Deficit Reduction Act" currently under consideration. Please call Congressman Shuster at 1-717-264-8308 or 1-202-225-2431 today. Congressman Platts may be reached at 1-800-928-8084. Both voted for these proposals previously.

R. Thomas Murphy

Patterson, Kiersz & Murphy, P.C.

Waynesboro, Pa.

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