Bill Would Extend Soon-to-Expire Federal Spousal Impoverishment Protections in HCBS

A recently introduced bill in Congress would extend soon-to-expire federal spousal impoverishment protections for spouses of people receiving Medicaid home and community-based services.   

The Protecting Married Seniors from Impoverishment Act would extend current federal protections for spouses of people who receive long-term services and supports at home or in the community through Medicaid. Under current law, spousal impoverishment protections allows spouses who do not need long term services and support to retain their income, home equity and other assets up to certain levels without jeopardizing their spouse’s eligibility for Medicaid long term services and support..

These protections exist permanently for spouses of people in nursing homes. For those married to someone who receives home and community-based services (HCBS), however, these protections will expire at the end of 2018 unless legislation is passed to continue them. 

If the federal protections expire, states will have the option to continue them for Medicaid HCBS recipients served through a 1915(c) waiver. According to new research from the Kaiser Family Foundation, most states plan to maintain these protections for spouses of Medicaid HCBS recipients. 

This change may not have an impact on clients in Minnesota because our state has other older rules in place that will accomplish the same outcome.  County workers and assessors will have to do some things differently that may be administratively burdensome, but not impact on coverage or current HCBS recipients. For more information read the Spousal Impoverishment Bulletin.

LeadingAge strongly supports the Protecting Married Seniors from Impoverishment Act.

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