Saturday, December 28, 2013

My Medicaid Nightmare

Did you ever have that dream where you are screaming as loud as you can and no sound comes out? Medicaid's "estate recovery" rule has me screaming, but my super-partisan audience isn't listening.

The "estate recovery" rule says that states must recover the costs of long-term care and related Medicaid expenses from the estates of Medicaid recipients who die after the age of 55. This rule has been on the books for twenty years, and elder law attorneys specialize in helping older Americans pass on their assets to their children and grandchildren so that nobody has to lose the family farm or corner store because they get old and sick.

The problem is that half the states have expanded Medicaid without thinking about how this rule is going to affect their citizens. Before the changes to healthcare, Medicaid was hard to get onto and people had years to prepare. Now, anybody with income below 138% of the federal poverty line is eligible with no limits on the assets they may own. Many of the family farms in my county belong to people who are not eligible for federal subsidies because their incomes are too low. That means they are signing up for Medicaid without understanding the implications.

My nightmare is that partisan Republicans treat this as "merely" another monstrous failure of the new law, while partisan Democrats don't want to deal with it. The gridlock in Washington leaves families at risk, but since this particular time-bomb won't blow up for years, nobody cares. By the time the Washington Post tells how one family lost the farm they had tilled for six generations, tens of thousands of family farms will have become the collateral for billions of dollars worth of medical expenses they can never pay.

I hereby invite Americans of every political persuasion to help address this problem. If you are a true-blue Democrat who celebrates the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, please join me in protecting these patients. If you are a red-hot Republican who despises Obamacare, please help me warn the people most affected. If you don't belong to either party, this isn't political--it's neighbors helping neighbors get ready for an "unexpected human-caused event."

What can you do to help? Click two hyperlinks and send one email. Use this link to find an elder law attorney in your state, click that link to find their contact information, and paste this into an email:
How does Medicaid's estate recovery rule apply to expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act? See:
With help from elder law attorneys across America, we can get the word out in time to save the family farm.

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