William F. Hammond in the Sun on Medicaid in NYC:

Many–maybe even most–of the elderly patients using [Medicaid] benefits are not poor in the usual sense. They typically have comfortable houses and late-model cars. They might own profitable businesses. And they may be preparing to leave hundreds of thousands or even million of dollars to their children when they die. But if their long-term expenses exceed their cash flow–which is not uncommon, even for the well off–they can be considered “medically needy” and qualify for Medicaid coverage. And some very wealthy people, with the help of lawyers who specialize in “estate planning,” are able to shift their money into trust funds controlled by their heirs, minimizing what they have to contribute toward their own care….

As a result, fully 78% of nursing home residents are Medicaid recipients, even though the elderly, as a group, are much wealthier than average. Many experts on long-term care, including operators of nursing homes, consider the situation a scandal. [2003/06/16]

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