I recall a wonderful movie from the 1970’s, Network, that became famous for the tag line: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” The main character, a news reporter, shouted the line in his national television broadcast and it echoed around the country, not just in the movie, but in real life.
Frequently, when talking with people in the community, I hear a similar rant when it comes to payment of taxes for Medicaid, our long-term care insurance program. Why should I pay for them? Let the family take care of their own. So what if they use all of their money? They should spend it all, I didn’t cause their problem. They’re just freeloaders. And on and on, a series of angry outbursts from a generation that feels it is overtaxed and underappreciated.
A very kind gentlemen told me, “I’m going to pay for my own expenses, how can you represent people who have money and are not paying for their care? I think it is un-American to do that.”
This was my response:
My friend, the answer to that simple question is very complex. To begin with, none of my clients are freeloaders or looking for a free ride. These are the people who built America, who made it the strong and proud nation that it has become. These are the families who braved their lives in war in Europe, Asia, and Korea so that I could live in a country where people are treated better and more equally than in any other country in the world. This generation worked hard, scrimped and saved, gave up their blood, sweat, and tears and because they did, I have been able to pursue an education, I have been able to work in a profession that I love, and I have a voice in the affairs of government at every level. This country was built on their backs. They faced the challenges of urbanization and technological advances and paid for all of it by paying their fair share of the tax burden.
Our clients made countless sacrifices for their children, then saved and saved so that one day they could leave a legacy to their children and grandchildren — a final expression of love for the gifts of life that the Creator had given them. They could have spent that money on good times, nice vacations, or luxury items. Instead, they chose to invest and save for their loved ones.
Stricken by a catastrophic illness which they could not have planned for and faced with astronomical medical bills, they are frightened and concerned when we meet with them. I am grateful that I can help them see a path which they can follow that will allow them to get the appropriate care in a nursing home, pay for that care and be able to leave a part of their legacy for their children. Our laws are humanitarian and compassionate and our clients can plan and preserve assets in a way that is compliant with the law and fully transparent. Even at the eleventh hour, fifty-ninth minute, planning and asset preservation are possible.
I know that, on some small level, this planning increases the tax burden of the whole community. However, my perspective is that this is a small price to pay, given the extensive contributions to America’s greatness by those families now faced with a medical crisis that could deplete all their resources. I consider it an honor and a privilege to be able to give them the opportunity to pass on to the next generation the fruit of a life well lived.
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Pfalzgraf, Beinhauer & Menzies, LLP is located at 455 Cayuga Road, Suite 600, Buffalo, NY 14225.