In March 2020, U.S. lawmakers agreed on the passage of a $2 trillion stimulus bill called the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) to help with the impact of an economic downturn set in motion by the COVID-19 pandemic. At over $2 trillion, this is the largest rescue package in U.S. history. The package includes stimulus checks payable to Americans.
Nursing and Assisted Living Homes
A basic Medicaid rule for nursing home recipients is that residents pay all their income, minus certain deductions, to the nursing home. Since in most states Medicaid recipients cannot have more than $2,000 in assets, there was also concern that the stimulus payments could put many recipients over the countable asset limit.
However, receiving the stimulus check should not disqualify nursing home residents from Medicaid nursing home care. Additionally, assisted living establishments cannot collect the stimulus check funds under the assertion it qualifies as income. This is because the stimulus checks are a tax credit, not income. Therefore, the stimulus check cannot push one over Medicaid’s income limit. Stimulus checks should go directly to the resident’s bank account or mailed to the address on his or her 2018/2019 tax return.
Federal Trade Commission Response to Resident Stimulus Checks
The FTC says assisted living home operators around the country have been wrongfully seizing the stimulus checks of Medicaid recipients. In fact, our law firm believes that nursing homes seizing the funds is inappropriate.
Some operators are trying to justify the seizure by claiming the stimulus check is a federal benefit, but the CARES Act payments are classified as a tax credit and are allocated to individuals, not the facilities caring for them. That means that nursing and assisted living homes cannot take that money from residents just because they are on Medicaid.
Some facilities are under scrutiny for allegations of pressuring residents to forfeit their checks. They have no legal standing to do so. Stimulus payments are not “resources” under the rules of federal benefit programs.
What can you do to protect yourself or your loved one?
If you have a loved one in a North Carolina nursing or assisted living home, the FTC encourages you to check on that loved one to be sure their stimulus check was not seized by the home. If you or a loved one have questions regarding this, you can immediately contact this firm for assistance.
Our Consumer Protection Investigation
Our firm will continue to investigate North Carolina assisted living homes and keep consumers updated. To speak with one of firm’s consumer attorneys, call our firm at (919) 526-0405 or through our contact page.