An overview of this area of the law might be helpful. There are many programs and laws that cover elderly individuals. These areas often overlap and can sometimes be confusing. Generally, the areas that are associated with elder law will be Retirement Benefits, Wills and Trusts, Power of Attorney, Healthcare Declaration (living will), Tax planning, Medicare and Medicaid, Long term Care, Guardianships, Nursing home rights, and Community based services. This is certainly not a definitive list but rather a broad stroke depicting the many areas with which the elderly will have to deal.
One area that causes a great deal of confusion is the distinction between Medicaid and Medicare. Medicare is a federally funded health insurance program for individuals who are 65 years and older. Medicaid is public assistance that will cover the cost of long-term nursing home care for those individuals who meet certain qualifications. Medicare is a Federal health insurance program for senior citizens. Medicaid is a joint federal and state program. At the federal level, the Department of Health and Human Services is responsible for approving each state’s plan of participation in the program. A second agency, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), is responsible for overseeing the state programs.
With the competing agencies at both the federal and state levels of government, it is no wonder, individuals are confused when it comes to making decisions in these areas of the law.