The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has released the 2020 federal guidelines for how much money the spouses of institutionalized Medicaid recipients may keep, as well as related Medicaid figures.

In 2020, the spouse of a Medicaid recipient living in a nursing home (called the "community spouse") may keep as much as $128,640 without jeopardizing the Medicaid eligibility of the spouse who is receiving long-term care. Known as the community spouse resource allowance or CSRA,this is the most that a state may allow a community spouse to retain without a hearing or a court order.

Meanwhile, the maximum monthly maintenance needs allowance for 2020 will be $3,217. This is the most in monthly income that a community spouse is allowed to have if her own income is not enough to live on and she must take some or all of the institutionalized spouse’s income. The minimum monthly maintenance needs allowance (MMMNA) for Florida remains $2,114.00.

In determining how much income a particular community spouse is allowed to retain, states must abide by this upper and lower range. Bear in mind that these figures apply only if the community spouse needs to take income from the institutionalized spouse. According to Medicaid law, the community spouse may keep all her own income, even if it exceeds the maximum monthly maintenance needs allowance.

The new spousal impoverishment numbers (except for the minimum monthly maintenance needs allowance) take effect on January 1, 2020.

For a more complete explanation of the community spouse resource allowance and the monthly maintenance needs allowance, and other fundamental terms used in Medicaid long term care, click the link for Medicaid Long Term Care 101.

Home Equity Limits: In 2020, a Medicaid applicant’s principal residence will not be counted as an asset by Medicaid if the applicant’s equity interest in the home is less than $595,000, in Florida

Click the link to read more about Medicaid’s home equity limit, and other important Florida Medicaid numbers.

It wasn't all good news coming out of CMS.

CMS Rule May Make it Harder For Medicare Beneficiaries to Receive Home Care

It may become harder for Medicare beneficiaries to find home health care due to a new rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Although the rule changes the way home health care providers are reimbursed, it could affect patient care as well.

Starting in January 2020, Medicare will reimburse home health agencies at a lower rate when they care for patients who have not been admitted to a hospital first. CMS estimates that it will pay home health agencies approximately 19 percent more for a patient who hires the home health agency directly after leaving a hospital than a patient who was never in the hospital or was only an outpatient. (The Center for Medicare Advocacy calculates that the disparity could be as high as 25 percent.)

In part due to pressure from Medicare to reduce costly inpatient stays, hospitals often do not admit patients, but rather place them on observation status to determine whether they should be admitted. These patients, if not admitted to the hospital for at least three nights, are not eligible for Medicare reimbursement of a limited amount of skilled nursing care and typically head home instead to continue care with Medicare’s home health care benefit.

But a home health agency that cares for a patient who was in the hospital under observation will be reimbursed as if the patient had been an outpatient. This lower reimbursement rate means that home health agencies may be reluctant to provide care for patients who were under observation status or who haven’t been in a hospital at all.

If you are hospitalized, it is important to learn whether you are admitted or under observation. Hospitals are required to provide notice to patients if they are under observation for more than 24 hours.


For more information about the new CMS rule on home care from the Center for Medicare Advocacy, click the link.

For additional assistance paying for home health care, and to protect your income and assets, contact us,  your local medicaid-planning lawyer, today.