Federal Trade Commission alerts consumers about reports of nursing homes required residents to unlawfully sign over their stimulus checks
FRESNO – It’s bad enough that many elderly residents in nursing homes were robbed of their final days with family during the pandemic, but now the federal government is discovering that some of these facilities were stealing their money as well.
Last week, the Better Business Bureau of Central California shared an alert issued by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warning consumers to be on the lookout for nursing homes and assisted living facilities that are requiring residents who are on Medicaid to sign their stimulus checks over to the facilities.
In a blog post, the FTC says that several Attorney General offices in states such as Iowa have received reports of nursing homes and assisted living facilities claiming that stimulus checks count as “resources” under the rules of federal benefit programs that must be used to pay for services.
The FTC notes that this is not true, and encourages consumers to check with loved ones who receive Medicaid and live in these facilities, and to file a complaint with their state attorney general if they or a loved one have experienced this issue.
Lois Greisman, an elder justice coordinator for the FTC, writes that “economic impact payments are, according to the CARES Act, a tax credit. And tax law says that tax credits don’t count as ‘resources’ for federal benefits programs, like Medicaid. So: when Congress calls these payments “tax credits” in the CARES Act, that means the government can’t seize them. Which means nursing homes and assisted living facilities can’t take that money from their residents just because they’re on Medicaid. And, if they took it already, get in touch with your state attorney general and ask them to help you get it back.”
Under Title 26 Section 6409 of U.S. Code, refunds and tax credits aren’t considered a “resource” for at least 12 months from receipt, which was reiterated in the Congressional “: Summary of the 2020 Recovery Rebates/Economic Impact Payments in the CARES Act” and in a fact sheet issued by the National Center on Law & Elder Rights.