Estate Recovery Bill

An Act Protecting the Homes of Seniors and Disabled People on MassHealth

There’s an important bill that deserves the support of any Mass Health consumer. The bills coming to a vote are – An Act Protecting the Homes of Seniors and Disabled People on MassHealth, Senate Bill 749 (Sen. Comerford) and House Bill 1246 (Rep Barber).

In short people with disabilities who become 55 and older Medicaid’s clock starts ticking. It calculates how much money MassHealth has spent on keeping you living in the community; however when you pass away the state recovers the money. It’s called the Estate Recovery Program. This Recovery Program can take one’s house away, savings, retirement plans, and other assets required to recuperate what MassHealth determines you must repay.

Should one be fortunate enough to have inherited a home from your parents or grandparents, MassHealth will take it away. This leaves people with nothing to pass on to their children or grandchildren. The bills mentioned above can put a stop to this horrible “clawback”.  

Although MassHealth is a poverty program providing health insurance, when applying intake coordinators do not inform consumers about the Recovery Program. For people with severe disabilities there is no choice except to take part of the MassHealth insurance. This insurance is the only insurance that will pay for PCAs, durable medical equipment such as wheelchairs, and medications. Without these services, consumers will not be able to live in the community independently. Instead people are sentenced to live in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. That’s not much of an option!

After a number of discussions with MassHealth, healthcare advocates from several independent living centers as well as Mass Law Reform Institute, MassHealth will begin reforms. Throughout the month of May, MassHealth will notify Members 55 or older; and members of any age, who are in a long-term care or other medical facility for at least 30 consecutive days.

To learn more and review the MassHealth Estate Recovery FAQ, go to MassHealth members with questions about Estate Recovery can call MassHealth at 1-800-841-2900 (TTY: (800) 497-4648).

Joseph Tringali

Editor and Informational Advocate

Stavros Center for Independent Living

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