In tough economic times every tax dollar counts. That's why the Minnesota Department of Human Services is trying to crack down on those people who give money away to relatives so they can qualify for Medical Assistance, a poverty program.
State officials estimate that calculated tax strategy costs the state about $12 million a year. The draining of those state funds is particularly hard to take at a time when the state's considering eliminating Medicaid-paid health insurance for thousands of low income residents.
Placing yourself into voluntary poverty by donating to your heirs is legal but it's a practice the state has every right to limit through regulations. Currently the federal government allows states to look back three years when they consider a medical assistance applicant's wealth. Gov. Tim Pawlenty's administration wants to extend that "look-back" period by another three years so it would be difficult for people to time their donations with their potential need for nursing home care.
Minnesota's attempt to discourage people from giving away their fortunes to family to avoid health care costs is appropriate. It boils to down to personal responsibility for what can be an extremely costly circumstance.
Sen. Sheila Kiscaden, I-Rochester, is right when she points out the most expensive welfare mothers that government supports is not the stereotypical welfare mom of the big cities, but 86-year-old moms in nursing homes.
"Doing this says 'I'm going to pass on my wealth to my descendants and your descendants can pay for my health care," she said.
Ten or 20 years ago there were only limited long term health care insurance options. But that situation has changed dramatically and individuals can now plan ahead for the possibility of a long expensive stay at a nursing home.
Those who can afford to pay for their own prolonged health care costs should do so or should purchase long term health care insurance. The state has its hands full helping those people who truly need assistance.
Never say die
Wild demonstrate the importance of never giving up
The Minnesota Wild's astonishing best-of-seven series victory over the seasoned Colorado Avalanche will likely rank as one of the most remarkable sports comebacks in Minnesota pro sports history.
The Wild disappointed their rabid fans when they failed to score a goal in the franchise's first home playoff game in St. Paul. When the team was down 3 games to 1 in the series, even its veteran coach Jacques Lemaire doubted they would be able to come back and qualify for the conference semifinals.
Tuesday night they shocked the hockey world by completing a three-game win streak and becoming just the eighth team in league history to come back from a 3-1 deficit with two victories on the road.
Bring on the Vancouver Canucks.
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