Tom Gialanella, 56, was shocked to find out he qualified for Medicaid under ObamaCare, able to retire early years ago, owns his home outright in a pricey Seattle suburb and is living off his investments.
He wanted no part of the government’s so-called free health care. “It’s supposed to be a safety net program. It’s not supposed to be for someone who has assets who can pay the bill,” he said. And after reading the fine print, Gialanella had another reason to flee Medicaid — the potential death debt.
Though many may not realize it, states are allowed to recover the cost of health care after someone’s death by seizing their assets. It applies to Medicaid recipients who are between the ages of 55 and 64. The law has been in place since 1993, when Congress realized states were going broke over rising Medicaid expenses. But under ObamaCare, Medicaid eligibility has expanded dramatically along with the promise that the federal government will pick up the cost of the higher tab — at least for the first few years, after which states will be on the hook for a portion of the increase.
Millions more are entering the system, perhaps without knowing that their assets could be at risk.
Sophia Prins doesn’t think it’s fair to go after the assets of people who get government assistance through Medicaid, but not those getting taxpayer subsidies through the exchange plans. The story prompted Washington’s Democratic governor, Jay Inslee, to issue an emergency rule change. It says the state may only recover the cost of nursing home care provided to Medicaid recipients in that 55-64 age group. That’s the minimum allowable under the 1993 law.
Oregon followed suit. But the 23 other states that expanded Medicaid under ObamaCare have not changed their estate recovery policies. A lot of money is at stake.
In 2004, California collected $44.6 million through estate recovery. It’s a number that is certain to rise dramatically. MediCal officials tell Fox News they expect 1 million-2 million additional enrollees by 2015. Minnesota, a much smaller state than California, managed to collect $25 million in 2004.
Sources—dan springer, fox news, ed griffin