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When Medicaid Comes for the Family Home

The New York Times
| Published March 16, 2024

Federal law requires states to seek reimbursement from the assets, usually homes, of people who died after receiving benefits for long-term care.

The practice dates to 1993, when Congress mandated that when Medicaid beneficiaries over age 55 have used long-term services, such as nursing homes or home care, states must try to recover those expenses from the beneficiaries’ estates after their deaths.

Most states allow those eligible for Medicaid to retain assets worth only $2,000. But if a beneficiary owns a home, it can be exempt. Still, if Medicaid has paid for long-term care and there’s money to be had after death, state agencies will come for the assets.

“If there’s going to be tens of thousands of dollars available for recovery, in most cases, it’s the house,” Mr. Carlson said. Surviving family members may have to sell the house to repay Medicaid, as the Midwestern daughter may be forced to do, or the state may seize the property.

“I don’t think estate recovery was a policy created primarily to impact low-income families, but that’s the impact it’s having,” said Natalie Kean, another directing attorney at Justice in Aging.

Featured Staff

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