Nursing home Medicaid is a federal program administered by the Georgia Department of Community Health. Nursing home Medicaid covers the cost of skilled nursing home care for individuals who show a need for such care. Along with showing a need for such care, an applicant for nursing home Medicaid must meet asset and income requirements. These requirements are stringent, as an applicant who is not married can only have $2,000 of unexempt assets in their name to qualify for nursing home Medicaid. Unexempt assets include all forms of savings such as checking accounts, savings account, stocks, bonds, and many other investments. The process of reducing the amount of countable assets to qualify for nursing home Medicaid is known as Medicaid spenddown.
A Medicaid spenddown plan is often complex as it balances the need to reduce assets with avoiding penalties that are imposed for giving away assets. One of the methods that can be used to reduce countable assets and qualify an applicant for nursing home Medicaid is to purchases exempt assets. These assets do not count towards Medicaid determination. One of such exempt assets is a vehicle. Under rules implemented by the Georgia Department of Community Health, one vehicle per household is exempt from counting against Medicaid eligibility. This can be a useful tool when one spouse needs nursing home Medicaid, and the couple is above the resource limits for a married couple. In this case, the married couple could purchase or upgrade their vehicle to reduce their assets and qualify for nursing home Medicaid. While buying an overly expensive vehicle will qualify an applicant for Medicaid, there are usually more practical methods to obtain Medicaid eligibility. An experienced elder law attorney can guide an applicant for nursing home Medicaid in the spenddown that works best for their individual needs.