Under a federal law that is not widely known, states are allowed to seize assets of Medi-Cal beneficiaries when they pass. Under the federal law, states are required to reclaim nursing home costs, but reclaiming other medical expenses is optional. California claims both. This fact is also little known to current Medi-Cal beneficiaries, as an article by the "California Report" details.
Last year, a bill was passed by the California Legislature that did away with California's ability to recover medical expenses, but it was quickly vetoed by Governor Brown. This year, another bill is up, SB33, sponsored by the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform. SB33 would get rid of this optional recovery. It has so far been passed by the Senate Health Committee and is up for a vote at the Senate Appropriations committee next.
In 2013-14, California recovered $61 million in 3900 cases, according to the Department of Health Care Services. An attorney can help in two ways relating to Medi-Cal and health care costs for individuals as they age. The first issue is Medi-Cal Eligibility. If one anticipates that they or a family member may have substantial costs relating to care as they age (nursing home, etc), an attorney can help them transfer assets to another individual in order to qualify for Medi-Cal. This process, which is complicated and needs to be overseen by an experienced attorney, not only makes the individual eligible for Medi-Cal, but protects their assets from being reclaimed by the state upon their passing.
The second way an attorney can be of assistance is for someone who is already on Medi-Cal who has assets under their name. Here, the family may want to avoid a potential Medi-Cal claim after their loved one passes. An attorney can assist in transferring the assets, potentially saving hundreds of thousands of dollars. The state of Califonria has put this legal system in place, but does not widely publicize its existence.
To determine if you need the assistance of an attorney with Medi-Cal planning, contact Walnut Creek Elder Law Attorney Matthew B. Talbot for a free consultation at 924-322-1763.
Read the California Report's full article: