On June 15, 2015, the New Jersey Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee approved a bill that will exempt up to $500 per month from being considered as part of the Medicaid five-year look back. The purpose of the proposed law, A-3760, is to allow residents applying for long-term care not to be penalized for making small gifts for birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, or to religious organizations or charities.
Jerry Rothkoff, on behalf of the NJ Elder Law bar, had the privilege of testifying before the NJ Assembly Committee in favor of the bill. The bill now goes to the full NJ State Assembly for a vote.
The proposed “De Minimis Transfer Bill” is designed to recognize the fact that many people make contributions on a regular basis to religious organizations, give holiday and birthday gifts to their immediate families, make gifts in honor of important events such as graduations, wedding, and births of a child. Similarly, people will cash checks for small amounts or withdraw small amounts from an ATM machine in order to pay cash for small purchases or for weekly contributions or small gifts. Most people do not keep a record of what these small amounts of cash were used for. None of these small transactions are made with any thought of depleting assets to qualify for Medicaid, yet in certain NJ counties they could preclude an individual from qualifying.
A-3760 would also provide clear guidance to help county social service staff in determining whether or not financial transactions are de minimus and, therefore, not in contemplation of Medicaid eligibility. This would bring New Jersey into conformity with other states like Maryland and Pennsylvania that have previously addressed this issue.
A NJ State Senate version of the bill will be voted on in the fall before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.