California Modifies Estate Recovery Rules

Six months after her mother died in 2014, Karen Craig opened her mailbox to find a bill for $9,530.06. It came from Medi-Cal, California’s version of the Medicaid program for low-income people, which was seeking repayment for her mother’s medical care even though she had used her coverage just once, for a routine wellness exam. (Her mother’s medical costs were primarily covered by Medicare, the federal program for seniors, Craig says.) In the ensuing months, Craig learned that Medi-Cal’s “Estate Recovery Program” could demand posthumous payback from enrollees 55 and over for a broad range of medical costs. For many people, including Craig’s mother, these costs included the monthly payments that Medi-Cal makes to managed care plans to cover its enrollees, even if they didn’t use any medical services.

Until now, California was among a minority of states that sought repayment beyond the federal mandate. California’s policy fueled disbelief and anxiety among Medi-Cal enrollees and their families. Now, to their relief, the program is changing: If you die on or after Jan. 1, new rules dramatically reduce what can be collected from your estate after your death. “People who are 55 and over don’t have to worry nearly as much about Medi-Cal recovery now,” says Patricia McGinnis, executive director of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform.

Source/more: Kaiser Health News



David Wingate is an elder law attorney at the Elder Law Office of David Wingate, LLC. The elder law office services clients with powers of attorneys, living wills, Wills, Trusts, Medicaid and asset protection. The Elder Law office has locations in Frederick and Montgomery Counties, Maryland.

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