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Recent Updates: Dental Benefits Under Virginia Medicaid, Medicaid Treatment of COVID-19 Relief Payments, & COVID-19 Funeral Assistance

New Dental Benefits Available

            Starting on July 1, 2021, adults over age 21 who are receiving full Medicaid and FAMIS benefits are now eligible to receive comprehensive dental benefits through Virginia’s dental program, Smiles For Children, administered by DentaQuest.  Covered dental services include: cleanings and preventive care, X-rays and exams, fillings, partials and dentures, root canals, gum-related treatment, oral surgeries, and other appropriate general services such as anesthesia.  In developing the new dental program, DMAS considered evidence that having a healthy mouth leads to improved health elsewhere in the body, including areas such as blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, dementia, respiratory health, and birth outcomes.   

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Medicaid Treatment of COVID-19 Relief Payments

            Typically under Virginia Medicaid rules, money received in any given month by a Medicaid recipient is considered income in the month received, and if not spent down, a resource in the following month.  Recent updates to the Virginia Medicaid manual provide that COVID-19 relief payments provided under federal law are considered tax credits and are not countable as income.  Further, such relief payments are not counted as resources for 12 months following the month of receipt.  However, any interest earned on unspent relief funds will be counted as income.

COVID-19 Funeral Assistance

            Under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, FEMA is providing financial assistance for COVID-19 related funeral expenses incurred after January 20, 2020.  To be eligible for funeral assistance, you must meet the following conditions:

  • For deaths that occurred after May 16, 2020, the death certificate must indicate the death was attributed to COVID-19.
  • For deaths that occurred from January, 20, 2020 to May 16, 2020, any death certificate that does not attribute the cause of death to COVID-19 must be accompanied by a signed statement listing COVID-19 as a cause or contributing cause of death:
    • The signed statement must be provided by the original certifier of the death certificate or the local medical examiner or coroner from the jurisdiction in which the death occurred;
    • The statement must provide an additional explanation, or causal pathway, linking the cause of death listed on the death certificate to COVID-19.

An applicant may receive up to $9,000 for each COVID-19 related funeral for which they are responsible.  Eligible funeral service expenses include, but are not limited to: transportation for up to two individuals to identify the decedent; transfer of remains; casket or urn; burial plot or cremation niche; marker or headstone; clergy or officiant services; arrangement of the funeral ceremony; use of funeral home equipment or staff; interment; costs associated with producing and certifying multiple death certificates; and additional expenses mandated by any applicable state or local government laws or ordinances.


ASK THE ATTORNEY:

Client: Is there a way to protect my Medicaid benefits in the event I receive an inheritance?

Attorney: Through the creation of certain irrevocable Supplemental Needs Trusts, you can protect your Medicaid benefits in the event you are the recipient of an inheritance, personal injury claim or divorce award. It is best to seek the advice of an experienced Elder Law attorney regarding the right plan for your particular situation.


ASK ANYA

Question: Anya, in a recent post by Hook Law Center, it was discussed that humans can donate their used pacemakers to dogs, do you have an update on this program? How many pups has this program helped?

Anya: Yes, we did do a post on this!  The donation program is ran by the University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine.  The donors are people who need pacemaker upgrades but whose previous implants still work.  In just two years of the program, they have collected 41 pacemakers for dogs!

Posted in Senior Law News, Uncategorized

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