‘Selling my home or losing Medicaid’: Problem Solvers investigate

Problem Solvers

ARVADA, Colo. (KDVR) — Christina Ulmer never wanted to post a for-sale sign in front of her Arvada home, yet on May 12, she found herself signing a contract to sell because she thought she had to.

“You have to decide if you want to continue living in the house that was built for you and risk losing Medicaid or sell the house and buy something smaller that won’t necessarily fit your needs as much,” she told the Problem Solvers.

The 50-year-old lives on disability payments after being paralyzed from the shoulders down in a 1993 car crash.

“My dad designed and built my house over 21 years ago,” Ulmer said.

She gave investigative reporter Rob Low a tour of her house to show how it’s been renovated to meet her needs as someone who is dependent on a ventilator and a wheelchair.

“Now I’m faced with selling my home or losing Medicaid,” she said.

Ulmer contacted the Problem Solvers after her estate attorney told her rising property values meant her assets were worth too much for her to qualify for Medicaid.

It is true that Medicaid has income and asset requirements that generally state a recipient cannot have home equity worth more than $603,000.

Thanks to exploding house values, the Jefferson County Assessor determined Ulmer’s house is currently assessed at $627,000.

That might suggest Ulmer’s house is worth more than Medicaid allows but the federal program also provides waivers based on a person’s circumstances.

However, a spokesman for the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing told FOX31 Ulmer was not in immediate danger of losing her Medicaid benefits.

The first reason is that her assets are not up for review until November. Secondly, she’s currently enrolled in Colorado’s Medicaid program, Health First Colorado, under the elderly, blind and disabled waiver program.

“Well, I would’ve thought my Medicaid attorney would know (that),” said Ulmer.

The Problem Solvers called and emailed Ulmer’s attorney numerous times but never received a response.

On Friday, Ulmer received an email from her attorney that essentially fired Ulmer as client.

The letter never gave a reason why this was happening, but said in part, “The Law Office is declining to continue to represent you as beneficiary of the Trust, regarding your eligibility for long-term Medicaid, and regarding your estate planning.”

“She got mad that you were getting involved on my behalf,” assumed Ulmer, who added she is happy the Problem Solvers did get involved.

The person who bought her home is a local Pastor who wanted to convert the house into a church. 

This put Ulmer into even more of a bind when she learned there was no reason to put her house up for sale.

Her real estate agent asked the pastor if he would pull out of the deal, and he rejected the request two times before Problem Solvers reached out to explain the circumstances and her desire to stay in the home.

“We have terminated our contract to buy Miss Ulmer’s house. We pray for God’s blessing and direction for Miss Ulmer and the decisions she makes going forward,” the pastor said in an email to investigative reporter Rob Low.

After learning she would be able to keep her home, Ulmer told the Problem Solvers she was ecstatic.

“Oh my gosh! A huge relief. It brought tears to my eyes. Thank you,” she said.

Anytime Health First Colorado members have questions or concerns about their eligibility or health coverages, the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing said a person should call the customer service center at 1-800-221-3943 or their county Department of Human Services.

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