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Legislation Revives Effort To Limit Medi-Cal Estate Recovery

Original source:

California Healthline

March 27, 2015

California lawmakers are considering a bill (SB 33) to limit the amount of assets that California can recoup from deceased Medi-Cal beneficiaries, KQED/Kaiser Health News reports.

Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program (Aliferis, KQED/Kaiser Health News, 3/27).


In 1993, the federal government began requiring all states to recoup the long-term care costs of Medicaid beneficiaries ages 55 and older after they die (California Healthline, 9/26/14).

The "estate recovery program" requires states to recoup assets for nursing home care, but it is optional to recover assets for medical services, such as doctor visits and hospital stays.

In 2013 and 2014, California recovered $61 million from 3,900 cases, according to Carol Sloan of the state Department of Health Care Services. However, it is unclear how much of that money was for nursing care and how much was for medical services.

Details of Bill

SB 33, by state Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), aims to remove the optional recovery provision in California, limiting the services for which the state can recoup assets to just nursing home care.

On Wednesday, the state Senate Health Committee unanimously approved the measure. The bill now heads to the state Senate Appropriations Committee.

The California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform is sponsoring the measure (KQED/Kaiser Health News, 3/27).

Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) vetoed a similar bill (SB 1124) by Hernandez that would have:

Limited asset recovery of Medi-Cal beneficiaries ages 55 and older to long-term care in nursing homes; Prohibited asset recovery from the estates of surviving spouses of deceased Medi-Cal beneficiaries; and Required the state to provide beneficiaries with a list of Medi-Cal expenses subject to estate recovery.

Brown said, "Allowing more estate protection for the next generation may be a reasonable policy goal," adding, "The cost of this change, however, needs to be considered alongside other worthwhile policy changes in the budget process next year" (California Healthline, 9/26/14).

According to KQED/KHN, Brown's veto statement "left an opening" for Medi-Cal estate recovery reform (KQED/Kaiser Health News, 3/27).