Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Medicaid patients will "stimulate the economy".

The pf blogosphere is abuzz with discussion of the economic stimulus payments most taxpayers will receive in the next couple of months. Many are touting the opportunity to use this returned tax money to save, invest, or pay down debts.

My grandfather, on the other hand, absolutely must spend his stimulus payment within three months of receiving it as a condition of continuing to receive Medicaid benefits. He's 88, has suffered from aphasia as a result his second stroke when I was in elementary school, has had respiratory problems and been on oxygen since a bad bout of double pneumonia in 1999, and never regained the ability to walk after being bedridden following surgery summer before last. After completing physical therapy that summer, he ended up in a nursing home because he now needs more help with the basic tasks of his daily life than my grandmother and the rest of my family can provide.

Nursing care is tremendously expensive, and the bills quickly ate through my grandparents' savings. My grandfather was approved for Medicaid last fall. His pensions and social security income all go into a trust: he gets $40 a month for his own needs, my grandmother gets a fixed sum to supplement her own social security benefits since my grandfather has a far greater income, and the rest goes toward his medical bills. He's allowed to keep a small amount of money, and under most circumstances if he exceeded that limit he'd no longer be eligible for Medicaid.

The stimulus payment will push him and many other Medicaid patients over that limit. The state had to institute a special policy to deal with this problem: if the money is spent for my grandfather's benefit within three months, it won't count. Otherwise, my grandfather will lose Medicaid benefits and have to reapply, even though his stimulus payment would cover less than a week of his care.

Now we just have to figure out how to spend this money. It's hard to buy for someone whose activities are so limited. Watching sports and old movies on tv and reading the newspaper are how he fills much of his time.


Anonymous said...

Good grief. The gov't.

I hope that your family can find something to spend it on that he'll enjoy

plonkee said...

Newpaper subscriptions? Clothes? Having flowers/fruit/cookies delivered? Anything where the benefits of the purchase would last a while would be good.

Joined up thinking is not a quality of any large organisation that I've ever met.

Mrs. Micah said...

Interesting. So there's no way the money can be spent on his care or somesuch....

E.C. said...

Thanks for the suggestions. My grandmother brings him the newspaper when she visits every day, but he used to read Sports Illustrated so perhaps he'd like a subscription to that.

Mrs. Micah,
Thanks to another quirk of the rules, we aren't legally allowed to pay for any medical care for my grandfather beyond what's paid out of his trust every month and what's covered by Medicaid/Medicare/Tricare. It's a strange system.

Ms. MiniDucky said...

Oy. Would it be possible to purchase gift cards to the grocery or something necessary so that the money is technically spent, but doesn't have to actually be used to purchase goods immediately?