California: Medi-Cal treated as a long-term loan with payback after you die?? (UPDATE: Not Due to the ACA)

Hat Tip To: 

OK, I admit that aside from tracking the actual enrollee numbers, I don't know a whole lot about the inner workings of Medi-Cal, California's version of Medicaid. However, if accurate, this just sounds...wrong:

California Governor Brown Still Wants to Steal My Home

I posted a diary here on August 26 about California turning Medi-Cal into a long term loan for recipients aged 55+ by billing their estates after they die for all of their Medi-Cal expenses.  The bureaucrats call that “estate recovery.”  I call it legal theft. A bill to remedy this situation and protect low income property owners has unanimously passed the California legislature. The bill has now gone to the governor to be signed. But he is  planning to veto it!

Today, many organizations are jointly sponsoring a call-in to the governor's office to put pressure on Governor Brown to sign SB 1124.  More information about the call-in is at the bottom of this diary.  But first, some background information.

Since I'm not even remotely familiar with this situation, I won't put my 2¢ in, but here's what contributor Ruth37 (who knows Medi-Cal very well) has to say about it:

I called 1-916-445-2841 to urge the Governor to sign SB1124, which would change the unfair estate recovery law in California. The line was busy at my first attempt, but I got through to Brown's office on the second try.

If SB 1124 does not pass, Medi-Cal will remain a long-term loan program for recipients age 55+. The state will bill the estates of those recipients for all of their Medi-Cal expenses from enrollment until death, including monthly premiums paid by Medi-Cal to HMO's. By passing SB 1124, California will only be able to take back the costs of nursing home, and long-term in-home and community-based care, which is required by Federal law.

I know a person who will drop Medi-Cal upon reaching age 55 because of the current very unfair law. If many people who have taken advantage of Medicaid Expansion do this, it will be very expensive again for the state and hospitals if they need unreimbursed emergency care.

Here's a link to the MoveOn petition regarding SB1124 for consideration.

UPDATE 09/15/14: Based on the comments below, as well as the following email, it sounds like the "long term loan/bill the estate" policy pre-dates the ACA, which means it's not directly related to the law:

"Robert is correct. It's nothing new. This link has an excellent summary.

Washington and Oregon have already moved administratively to limit the recovery to recovery of costs to nursing home long-term care costs, which was the main original focus of the law (needed because Medicaid pays about 50% of our nation's nursing home bills and a number of strategies had developed to "hide" assets in order to qualify for Medicaid). SB1124 appears to accomplish the same thing as the Washington and Oregon changes.

Those who are Medicaid-eligible under the ACA also should know that the 1993 federal law bars estate recovery when there is a surviving spouse, a child under the age of 21 or a child of any age who is blind or disabled. And that there are exemptions that will allow other family members to keep the family farm or home under certain circumstances,"

OK, so basically they can only recover money from the estate if the person's immediate family is dead or still dependent on those funds, which is an important detail to note.