Usually when a MassHealth denial is received, it makes sense to file an appeal within 30 days of the denial date. To have proof that you appealed timely, it is advisable that the appeal be sent via fax to the Board of Hearings.
In many cases, receiving a MassHealth denial means that the MassHealth eligibility worker requested something (known in MassHealth lingo as a “verification”) and did not receive it on a timely basis. In those situations, submitting a missing verification during the following 30 days is treated as a new application for MassHealth. Since a MassHealth application is retroactive for no more than 3-4 months, it is important to determine whether the new application will go back far enough. If not, an appeal should be filed, and if all of the missing verifications are submitted at an appeal, the original application date will be preserved.
If a denial is received for any reason other than missing verifications, filing an appeal may or may not help the situation. If there were disqualifying transfers, sometimes an appeal would be futile and a return of the assets to the MassHealth applicant makes more sense. Sometimes, the denial refers to excess assets and there are financial steps that can be taken to “spend down” the excess assets.
What I have been seeing a lot of lately is a denial that is the result of an overworked MassHealth eligibility worker’s mistake. This is also a just plain ridiculously stupid MassHealth process now in place, where you send your documents to MassHealth on a timely basis, then MassHealth sends the documents out to be scanned for electronic storage and doesn’t let the eligibility worker know when the documents were received, so the worker issues a denial because the worker doesn’t receive the scanned documents back on time.
When a denial is received and you file an appeal, MassHealth’s own regulations require that most appeals be heard and decided within 45 days. Unfortunately, at present, it now takes the Board of Hearings 4-5 months just to schedule an appeal. Nursing homes, which are not being paid during that time, are sometimes filing lawsuits against MassHealth applicants and their families before they even get a chance to have their appeal heard. Thus, when you receive a MassHealth denial for any reason whatsoever, attaining the services of an elder law attorney within the following 2-3 weeks is now extremely important. It shouldn’t be that way, but the MassHealth system seems to be out of control at this point.