CHA Calls for Limit on Medi-Cal’s Estate Recovery

CHA Calls for Limit on Medi-Cal’s Estate Recovery

The Honorable Ed Hernandez, Chair
Senate Health Committee
State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 95814
VIA EMAIL: scott.bain@sen.ca.gov

Re: SB 33 (Hernandez) as amended on March 11, 2015 – Support

Dear Senator Hernandez:

California Health Advocates writes in strong support of SB 33 (Hernandez) – your bill to limit Medi-Cal estate recovery to what is federally required.

California Health Advocates is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing quality Medicare and related healthcare coverage information, education and policy advocacy. California Health Advocates supports the work of local Health Insurance Counseling & Advocacy Programs (HICAP) which provide benefits counseling and community education on Medicare and long term care.

Several studies show that people who are uninsured make fewer doctor visits, delay or forego treatment. Many aged 55-64, the pre-Medicare group, do not have health care insurance mainly because they cannot afford it and because they have pre-existing conditions. Without insurance, they have more difficulty accessing care and, without care, their health declines. The Affordable Care Act holds promising solutions to help those uninsured get insurance: by establishing a marketplace to buy health insurance, expanding Medicaid and prohibiting insurance carriers from denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions.

In 2014, California had the highest number of people enrolled in marketplace plans. However, estate recovery rules discouraged those aged 55-64 from applying for expanded Medi-Cal. In other words, more people could have had insurance but for current estate recovery rules which may hinder the state’s goal to decrease the number of uninsured.

SB 33 would help address this barrier, eliminating the optional estate recovery in Medi-Cal by:

  • Limiting Medi-Cal estate recovery for those 55 years of age or older to the federally mandatory costs;
  • Limiting Medi-Cal estate recovery to the amount actually spent by Medi-Cal or the Medi-Cal health plan for services received – whichever is less in that month;
  • Narrowing the definition of estate to federal requirement to exclude property or assets that passes to a survivor, heir, or assign of the decedent through joint tenancy, tenancy-in- common, survivorship, life estate, living trust, or by other arrangement;
  • Eliminating collection against the estate of a surviving spouse of a deceased Medi-Cal beneficiary; and

California Health Advocates urges you to protect the homes and health of our poorest families by supporting SB 33.

Sincerely,

Elaine Wong Eakin
Executive Director

Cc:

Members of the Senate Health Committee
Linda Nguy, Western Center on Law & Poverty

Our blogger Karen J. Fletcher is CHA's publications consultant. She provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare, health disparities and other health care issues. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she serves in health advocacy as a trainer and consultant. See her current articles.