An Arizona appeals court holds that a Medicaid applicant’s legal right to access bank accounts made them an available resource, even though he lacked the ability to access the accounts. McGovern v. Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System Administration (Ariz. Ct. App., Div. 1, No. 1 CA-CV 15-0643, Nov. 8, 2016).

Patrick McGovern had three bank accounts that he owned jointly with his daughter, but he lacked the mental capacity to access them. His sister was his attorney-in-fact under a power of attorney. The bank would not allow his sister to access the accounts on his behalf without the consent of his daughter and his daughter refused to consent. Mr. McGovern entered a long-term care facility and applied for Medicaid. The state denied him benefits, finding that the funds in the bank accounts were available assets.

Mr. McGovern appealed, arguing that the assets were unavailable because he was unable to access them. After a hearing, the state affirmed the denial of benefits, and Mr. McGovern appealed to court. The court reversed the state’s decision and ordered it to pay benefits. The state appealed.

The Arizona Court of Appeals, Division 1, reverses, holding that the assets in the bank account are available assets for the purposes of Medicaid eligibility. The court holds that even though Mr. McGovern did not have the capacity to access the bank accounts, he has a legal right to them, so the bank accounts are countable resources.

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