MEDI-CAL II: Bill Would Shield Relatives from Payments
A bill being considered in the state Senate would prevent Medi- Cal from stepping in after a recipients' death and claiming assets for nursing home payments. In many cases, the state seizes recipients' homes, which have often been passed down to children or siblings who have spent years caring for a sick relative, the Los Angeles Times reports. For the second straight year, legislators are trying to exempt long-term caregivers from the recovery program, arguing that they save the state money by keeping relatives out of nursing homes. Introduced by state Sen. Teresa Hughes (D-Inglewood), SB 1032 would exempt caregivers who live with a parent for two years and siblings who provide in-home care for one year. Hughes' bill also calls on the state to "create consistent criteria for granting hardship waivers to heirs who are poor, old or unemployed."
Gov. Gray Davis has not yet weighed in on the legislation, but officials last year opposed a similar bill. In the meantime, Pat McGinnis, executive director of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, said that the only people who end up getting hurt "under this system are poor people; people who don't know what their rights are." A health department, which estimates that the recovery program brought in $35 million in the past year, has in the past held the position that "Medi-Cal services, in essence, are a loan" that must be repaid to the state (Pyle, 3/11).