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AL Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Congress Updates Spousal Impoverishment Protections

Federal spousal impoverishment protections were set to lapse in March 2019. Two bills were proposed to deal with that issue. H.R. 1343 is still sitting in the House, but H.R. 3253 was enacted on August 6, 2019.

 H.R. 1343, or the Protecting Married Seniors from Impoverishment Act, would have made certain impoverishment protections permanent. It was introduced on February 25th and referred to the Subcommittee on Health the next day, but no further action has been taken on it.

 However, H.R. 3253 has been enacted. This bill, also known as the Empowering Beneficiaries, Ensuring Access, and Strengthening Accountability Act of 2019, temporarily extends the applicability of Medicaid eligibility criteria that protect against spousal impoverishment for recipients of home and community-based services. The extension will run through 2024. The bill also expands the purview of state Medicaid fraud control units, reduces requirements regarding the average manufacturer price (AMP or blended AMP) for drug manufacturers under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program, and increases funding for the Medicaid Improvement Fund.

 The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the federal guidelines for how much money the spouses of institutionalized Medicaid recipients may keep. The minimum “community spouse resource allowance” a state may set is $25,284. The spouse of a Medicaid recipient living in a nursing home (the community spouse, in other words) may keep as much as $126,420 without jeopardizing their spouse’s Medicaid eligibility, and perhaps even more if there is a hearing or court order. These numbers will increase in 2020.

 We help seniors and their loved ones access Medicaid benefits for long term care when appropriate. If you have questions about Medicaid eligibility or about programs you may be eligible for, please get in touch with our Dothan, Alabama office by calling us at (334) 792-6213.

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