Yesterday the Seattle Times posted an article about a provision of ObamaCare that has come as a surprise to some of the elderly people who are subscribing to the program. The story deals with Sofia Prins and Gary Balhorn, both 62, who after reading the fine print in Medicaid that has changed as a result of ObamaCare, decided to get married.
The article explains the problem:
Medicaid, in keeping with federal policy, has long tapped into estates. But because most low-income adults without disabilities could not qualify for typical medical coverage through Medicaid, recovery primarily involved expenses for nursing homes and other long-term care.
The federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) changed that. Now many more low-income residents will qualify for Medicaid, called Apple Health in Washington state.
But if they qualify for Medicaid, they’re not eligible for tax credits to subsidize a private health plan under the ACA, which requires all adults to have health insurance by March 31.
Prins, an artist, and Balhorn, a retired fisherman-turned-tango instructor, separately qualified for health insurance through Medicaid based on their sole incomes.
But if they were married, they calculated, they could “just squeak by” with enough income to qualify for a subsidized health plan — and avoid any encumbrance on the home they hope to leave to Prins’ two sons.
The article further reports:
Late Friday, Gov. Jay Inslee’s office and the state Medicaid office said they plan to draft an emergency rule to limit estate recovery to long-term care and related medical expenses.
They hope to be able to change the rules before coverage begins Jan. 1.
Fixing the problem will cost the state about $3 million a year, said Dr. Bob Crittenden, Inslee’s senior health-policy adviser, but it’s the right thing to do.
“There was no intent on the part of the ACA to do estate recovery on people going into Medicaid (for health insurance),” Crittenden said. “The idea was to expand coverage.”
One of the problems with ObamaCare is that it will move many people who previously had basic health insurance into Medicaid. Unfortunately, Medicaid cannot support this increase–it is already going broke. The increase in Medicaid enrollment will put a severe financial burden on states, and create budget problems for the states that have formed healthcare exchanges.
The article explains the risk of the fine print in ObamaCare:
For health coverage through Medicaid, income is now the only financial requirement.
At first, Prins was pleased at the prospect of free coverage.
But the more she thought about the fine print, the more upset she got. Why was this provision only for people age 55 and older? Why should those insured by Medicaid have to pay back health expenses from their estates when people with just a bit more income who get federal subsidies don’t? Why didn’t she and Balhorn know about this before getting to the application stage?
As Prins began searching for answers, she found that even those trained to help people sign up for insurance under the ACA weren’t aware of this provision, nor were some government officials.
Around the country, the issue has sizzled away in blogs and commentaries from both right and left. The National Women’s Law Center noted the ACA and its regulations prohibit age discrimination in programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.
Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of the politically conservative Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, writing in the The Washington Times, called the recovery provision “a cash cow for states to milk the poor and the middle class.”
“People will think this is wonderful, this is free insurance,” Orient said in an interview. “They don’t realize it’s really a loan, and is secured by any property they have.”
Even states that are now limiting estate recovery, she warned, can change the rules again if budget problems become more intense.
When you think about it, taking money from the estates of the middle class is simply another way to redistribute wealth, one of the major results of the implementation of ObamaCare. It is becoming very obvious that ObamaCare is a nightmare for the states, the insurance companies, and the insured. It needs to be repealed and replaced.