NU Online News Service, March 23, 2004, 12:05 p.m. EST – The New York chapter of AARP, Washington, is fighting to protect current New York state Medicaid long term care benefits.[@@]

New York Gov. George Pataki, a Republican, has released a proposed budget that would tighten eligibility rules.

AARP says it will be using direct mail, electronic advertising and print advertising to ask “thousands of AARP members across the state to contact their state legislators” to demand a stop to the new proposed eligibility requirements.

AARP says New York should cut Medicaid costs by establishing a formulary, or preferred drug list, for Medicaid beneficiaries instead of by restricting access to nursing home and home care benefits.

Under the current New York state eligibility rules for Medicaid nursing home benefits, the state can “look back” 3 years into an applicant’s financial records to check for “improper financial transfers.” Up till now, the state has not imposed a 3-year look back on patients who need home care services.

Pataki’s budget proposal would lengthen the look-back period to 5 years, AARP says.

The proposal also would “require couples to impoverish themselves in order to be eligible for home care services,” AARP says.

Any gifts to grandchildren, charities or religious organizations made 5 years before a beneficiary applied for Medicaid could result in denial of coverage, AARP says.