Advocates Promote Medi-Cal Estate Recovery Act
California News Service
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Advocates for seniors are speaking out to draw attention to the Medi-Cal Estate Recovery Act, recently signed by Governor Jerry Brown.
It reverses a long standing policy of the state to put liens on any property certain Medi-Cal patients leave behind.
Pam Cortina, who is on Medi-Cal and fighting two forms of cancer, says the change is a huge relief.
“You know, here I am, I was already sick with two very severe illnesses, and I couldn’t work,” she relates. “And, plus, the burden of me sitting here and thinking, ‘OK, it’s everything that I’ve worked for, my heirs would not get.'”
The old policy targeted the assets of the very poor and brings in about $30 million a year to state coffers.
Cortina says it is unfair because it only applied to very low-income people over the age of 54, and not to younger people on Medi-Cal, to people who get state subsidies to afford a Covered California plan – or to seniors on Medicare.
Linda Nguy, a policy associate with the Western Center on Law and Poverty, says the state will also no longer be able to send the heirs a bill for the fee Medi-Cal paid the health plan each month – about $600 – regardless of whether the patient ever used the medical services. So, she says, people needn’t shy away from Medi-Cal.
“It has been a barrier,” she states, “that people have chosen not to enroll in Medi-Cal, to just forgo having health insurance, even though they do qualify.”
The state still will recover costs from the estates of Medi-Cal patients who needed nursing home care, as required by federal law. The new law goes into effect Jan. 1.