State Agrees to Public Hearing, Comment Period on Emergency Medi-Cal Rules
Department of Health Services officials on Monday announced that they would allow public comment on emergency regulations issued in March that would give the state the authority to begin collecting a larger portion of assets left by elderly Medi-Cal beneficiaries after they die, the Sacramento Bee reports (Benson, Sacramento Bee, 4/26).
The regulations, which would charge 7% interest on the amount owed to the state by families of deceased beneficiaries, were approved last month and supposed to take effect immediately (California Healthline, 3/24). According to the Bee, the rules were intended to address Medi-Cal beneficiaries who transfer ownership of their homes while they are still alive through "life estates" to help qualify for Medi-Cal.
Officials for the administration of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) also said they would begin requiring heirs of some Medi-Cal beneficiaries to repay the state the cost of home care services.
DHS officials said the delay in implementation is intended to avoid an extended court case over the matter, after the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform earlier this month filed a lawsuit on the matter.
Under federal law, the state must recoup the costs of Medi-Cal benefits it provides to people over 55 who die leaving assets.
DHS spokesperson Ken August said the Schwarzenegger administration will continue to pursue changes to the Medi-Cal policy but will first hold public hearings and a public comment period.
CANHR Director Pat McGinnis said, "We hope that consumer groups and consumers themselves will send in their comments and say how horrifying some of these provisions are" (Sacramento Bee, 4/26).
In other Medi-Cal news, KPBS' "KPBS News" on Friday reported on the California Endowment study finding that re-enrolling children whose Medi-Cal benefits have been eliminated because of untimely or incomplete paperwork cost the state more than $120 million over three years.
The segment includes comments from Peter Long, senior program officer for the California Endowment (Goldberg, "KPBS News," KPBS, 4/22). The complete transcript is available online. The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.