The Governor recently signed California Senate bill 483 which will bring some major changes to the Medi-Cal Long Term Care program. This bill was designed to put California in conformance with the Federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 which requires states to place limitations on Medi-Cal eligibility or risk loss of federal funding. The bill will go into effect January 1, 2009 and will have an impact on hundreds of thousands of seniors and individuals with disabilities or mental health issues.
The bill will change the look back period in California from 30 months to 60 months and makes the penalty period start when an applicant is in a nursing home and applies for benefits. (The look back period is the time within which Medi-Cal can review transfers of assets.)
The bill also limits the equity in the exempt home to $750,000 and defines “equity interest” as the assessed value or appraised value, whichever is lower, minus encumbrances. The home equity limits do not apply however in certain circumstances.