Medicaid madness:"Look-back" period creates financial hardship for many Americans

Martha C. White

When Dan Callahan, a public relations professional from Missouri, learned in 2003 that the Medicaid qualifications were going to get tougher, he and his two siblings took their 83-year-old mother to an accountant who specialized in elder and estate law to find out how they could comply.

Callahan thought he knew the drill: His father had needed nursing home care while suffering from Alzheimer's years earlier, at which point his mother had transferred the family duplex, car and other assets into her name so that her husband could qualify for nursing home care under Medicaid when his disease progressed to the point that he could no longer be cared for at home. But the move ended up backfiring.