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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

What is The New Medicaid Lookback period?

What is the appropriate Medicaid Look-Back period under the DRA?

This is an important question for anyone making a Medicaid application in that the local office will request financial records for the time period of the Look-Back. I find it can be very difficult to gather 3 years of records for a senior who now requires Medicaid to pay for his or her long term care, and 5 years is an even greater burden.

So what is the Look-Back Period? I had been going with 60 months, as until recently all the States that had created the DRA enacting legislation had used that timeframe.

However, in Most States Fudging DRA Look-Back Change from Elderlawanswers.com, there is an excellent analysis that the states may have the changes to the Look-Back Period wrong.


In New York's enacting legislation, they have taken note of the fact that that DRA did NOT in fact changes the Look-Back Period from 36 months to 60 months. Instead, it said that IF there had been a transfer in the 60 months after enactment, THEN there was a 60 month Look-Back for the transfers.

New York then has taken a staggered approach to the Look-Back Period, since 60 months obviously have not expired since the DRA was enacted. For the first 36 months, the Look-Back Period remains 36 months (since any transfers would be before the DRA was enacted). The Look-Back Period then extends to 37 months in the 37th month after the DRA to capture any transfer in that month, until it finally reaches 60 months.

This approach appears to resolve the issue of the 60 month Look-Back for transfers after 2.8.06 with the 36 month Look-Back period in the Code not being changed by the DRA.

One would hope that in creating its enacting legislation to the DRA that New Jersey would take such a measured approach as well.

Most States Fudging DRA Look-Back Change - Elder Law Answers Articles:

"Since 1993, the look-back date on a Medicaid application for long-term care coverage has been 36 months, 42 U.S.C. S. 1396p(c)(1)(B), and this figure was not erased by Congress in the amendments to the statute it made through the DRA. Instead, the 36-month figure was preserved and a 60-month look-back date was added to the statute but made applicable only to transfers that occurred after the DRA effective date.

The last time Congress made any modification to the look-back date was in the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, P.L 103-66 (OBRA-93), when it simply deleted '30' from the statute and replaced it with '36,' and thereby left little doubt that it intended to increase the look-back period on all prospective applications to 36 months. But Congress chose not to make the change in the same manner in its DRA amendments. In keeping the 36-month figure in the statute, Congress was clearly indicating that a 36-month look-back date is still applicable in some fashion. By attaching the 60-month look-back date to transfers made after the DRA enactment date, as opposed to applications filed after that date (a la OBRA-93), the design was obviously to at least phase in the extended look-back date over time. Based on the language Congress used in the DRA, the look-back period cannot be greater than 36 months until at least February 2009, because that will be the first point at which an
individual will have possibly made a transfer that occurred more than 36 months after the DRA enactment.

Agreeing with this reading of the DRA statute, New York keeps the look-back period at 36 months (60 months for trusts) until February 1, 2009. Beginning on that date, Medicaid offices will require resource documentation for the past 37 months (60 months for trusts). "

This is a confusing issue. Before you rely on "the grapevine", consult an elder law attorney who can help you sort through the convoluted laws of Medcaid.

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