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Ford warns against nursing homes seizing relief checks

Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford is advising nursing home residents and their family members to be cautious about having their economic impact payments or “stimulus checks” improperly taken from them.

By law, nursing homes cannot require residents on Medicaid to sign over their stimulus payments.

“My office has received concerning reports about nursing homes that may attempt to take stimulus checks from their residents,” Ford said. “On many fronts, we’re actively working to protect our seniors, and any confiscation of stimulus payments should be reported to my office.”

According to the coronavirus relief bill passed by Congress, relief checks are a tax credit and do not count as a “resource” for federal benefit programs such as Medicaid. Because Congress has designated these payments as a tax credit, the government cannot seize them for federal benefit programs.

While Medicaid requires nursing home residents to contribute most of their income toward the cost of care, it still allows them to keep a small amount as personal-need allowance and pay for personal and uncovered medical expenses. The checks count toward this personal-need allowance. If nursing homes or their staff obtain this money without the resident’s consent, this may be considered a form of elder exploitation.

If your loved one is living in a nursing home and you are not sure what happened to their relief check, talk to your loved one to find out where the payment went. Consider speaking with the facility’s management to make sure they have not unlawfully taken the payment.

If you believe a nursing home resident who is a Medicaid recipient has forfeited their check to a nursing home, you may file a complaint with the Office of the Nevada Attorney General here or with the Federal Trade Commission here. You may also call the hotline at (888) 434-9989.

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