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How Medicaid Estate Recovery Perpetuates Poverty

April 13, 2021
The cover of an issue brief titled "Medicaid Estate Claims: Perpetuating Poverty & Inequality for a Minimal Return" from April 2021. It features logos from Justice in Aging, Western Center on Law & Poverty, CANHR Long Term Care Justice & Advocacy,  National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, and the National Health Law Program at the top. Below the logos is a heartwarming photograph of two Black women. The younger woman is affectionately kissing the older woman on the cheek. The text on the document calls for Congress to end mandatory Medicaid estate recovery.

Federal law requires that state Medicaid programs attempt to recover costs  from estates of deceased recipients. Estate claims often force heirs to sell a family home that otherwise would have been passed down. Because home ownership is one of the few ways to build generational wealth for lower-income families, the burdens of estate recovery fall disproportionately on economically oppressed families and communities of color.

A new issue brief, Medicaid Estate Claims: Perpetuating Poverty and Inequality for Minimal Return, makes the case that Congress should end mandatory Medicaid estate recovery. The report, authored as a collaboration between Justice in Aging, California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR), National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), National Health Law Program (NHeLP), and Western Center on Law & Poverty, also includes recommendations to limit estate claims from a recent report to Congress by the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC).

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