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Medicaid retreiving medical costs from the dead

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If you’re a Medicaid recipient in Oregon or Washington State, preparing for Medicaid itself may be a whole new ball of wax. Over a period of two years from July 2011 to June 2013, Oregon claimed $41 million in assets from about 8,900 people, The Washington Post reported.

What is not a well-known fact to many recipients is that some states, in rare cases, can recoup their losses brought on by medical costs – that includes seizing the assets of the deceased.

It is not a new rule, but rather one introduced in 1993 when Congress was desperate for money as Medicaid skyrocketed in cost. It has always applied to recipients between the ages of 55 and 64.

Fast forward to today’s Obamacare plan with its massive expansion of the Medicaid program. It has brought with it an explosion of people who fit into the above category.

Washington residents were understandably perturbed to discover they did not qualify for the plan, but it also carried asset-seizing consequences if they did, according to Fox News.

State governments have taken notice recently and begun to modify their policies. For instance in the State of Washington, they have changed the asset recovery policy shortly before the beginning of the year to avoid “unintended consequences” for those recipients unlucky enough to be enrolled in Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act expansion.

That means Washington will still allow property liens on Medicaid clients 55 and over for long-term care expenses in special cases, but now a rarity.

Meanwhile, Oregon has altered its estate-recovery rules right before the new year. According to Oregon Health Authority, recovery will no longer apply to health benefits for people 55 and over, but the state can still seize property for long-term care, just as Washington will do.

The slight changes to the rules are not expected to discourage future recipients from signing up for expanded Medicaid, so they sought different strategies to approach people.

If you’re receiving a public benefit and the state is trying to support you, you should give back if you are able. We needed to take another look at health insurance coverage from the point of view of it not being a public benefit that’s voluntary,” said Judy Mohr Peterson, Oregon’s Medicaid director.

Changes in the nation’s healthcare system will take years to unravel and put back together.

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