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Nursing homes can't seize stimulus checks for Medicare, FTC says

Here's what to do if you or a loved one has had your coronavirus stimulus money taken away.

Some nursing homes and assisted living facilities may be trying to take stimulus money sent through the CARES Act away from its residents who are on Medicare, the Federal Trade Commission said Friday. The agency says that should not be happening.

In a blog post, FTC Elder Justice Coordinator Lois Greisman wrote that the Iowa Attorney General's Office has been handling such reports. Other states are allegedly hearing the same thing.

The money from the CARES Act counts as a tax credit, according to Greisman. Under law, that money cannot be used on federal benefit programs like Medicaid.

"So: when Congress calls these payments 'tax credits' in the CARES Act, that means the government can’t seize them," Greisman wrote. "Which means nursing homes and assisted living facilities can’t take that money from their residents just because they’re on Medicaid."

Greisman said if a nursing home or assisted living facility has already taken that money from you, contact your state attorney general to help you get the money back and file a complaint with the FTC.

"If a loved one lives in a nursing facility and you’re not sure what happened to their payment, talk with them soon. And consider having a chat with the facility’s management to make sure they know which side of the law to be on," Greisman wrote.

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Greisman added this passage to help arm people with the information they need to argue the money should not be taken:

"You can go right here to get the federal tax law that says refunds aren’t considered a 'resource' in federal benefits programs. And you can click this link to get the Congressional Summary that talks about the funds as tax credits not countable as resources for federal government programs. (It’s on page 3.) And here’s even more helpful information from the National Center on Law & Elder Rights for people who live in nursing homes or assisted living facilities."