Calif. gov­er­nor ve­toes bill to pro­tect de­ceased Med­i­caid re­cip­i­ents’ as­sets

Modern Healthcare - - LATE NEWS - —Vir­gil Dick­son

Cal­i­for­nia Gov. Jerry Brown, cit­ing bud­get con­cerns, has ve­toed a bill that would have limited what the state could re­coup for health­care costs from the es­tates of dead Med­i­caid ben­e­fi­cia­ries. As a re­sult, some el­i­gi­ble low­er­in­come Cal­i­for­ni­ans may de­cide against sign­ing up for the pro­gram, ad­vo­cates worry.

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment re­quires states to re­cover funds from Med­i­caid ben­e­fi­cia­ries age 55 and older for longterm-care ser­vices such as nurs­ing home care. But Cal­i­for­nia is one of a few states that col­lect for all med­i­cal care, in­clud­ing pre­mi­ums paid to a health plan on be­half of a ben­e­fi­ciary from age 55 un­til he or she be­comes el­i­gi­ble for Medi­care at age 65.

A bill by Demo­cratic state Sen. Ed Her­nan­dez would have limited re­cov­ery from those 55 or older to what is re­quired by fed­eral law. It also would have pro­hib­ited as­set re­cov­ery from sur­viv­ing spouses of de­ceased ben­e­fi­cia­ries of Medi-Cal, the state’s Med­i­caid pro­gram, and re­quire Cal­i­for­nia to pro­vide ben­e­fi­cia­ries with a list of ex­penses sub­ject to es­tate re­cov­ery.

“The cur­rent pol­icy dis­suades en­roll­ment in Medi-Cal pro­grams and at the end of the day re­ally hurts low­in­come fam­i­lies and se­niors,” said Kevin Prindiville, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Na­tional Se­nior Cit­i­zens Law Cen­ter. “We are dis­ap­pointed.”

One con­cern is that home­own­ers could con­ceiv­ably lose their houses when a spouse dies be­cause of Brown’s veto.

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