Today, Representatives Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Fred Upton (R-MI) introduced bipartisan legislation to extend financial protections to seniors who receive long-term care in their home or a community setting.
Medicaid – the primary payer for long-term care, services, and supports – includes protections to prevent a spouse from depleting all their financial resources due to a significant others’ long-term care needs. In order to maintain Medicaid eligibility, beneficiaries with a family member needing long-term care, services, or supports may be put in a situation where they need to “spend down” their resources, or potentially bankrupt themselves, in order to get the care they need.
Under current mandates, spousal impoverishment protections in Medicaid prevent unnecessary financial harm in cases where one spouse needs long-term care in a nursing home or institutional care facility. But protections for care at home or in the community – which tends to be less costly and less disruptive for families – are due to expire in a few weeks at the end of the year.
In an effort to erase the institutional bias that has led seniors to choose more costly nursing homes over impoverishment, Dingell and Upton have introduced the Protecting Married Seniors from Impoverishment Act. The legislation permanently extends spousal impoverishment protections for Medicaid beneficiaries receiving long-term care in a home or community care setting.
“Our long-term care system is broken,” said Dingell. “Seniors and their families already face too many challenges when navigating long-term care, and they should not have to get divorced or go broke just to be eligible for the care they need. Our bipartisan bill permanently extends spousal impoverishment protections to seniors no matter if they are receiving care in home, in the community, or in a nursing home facility.”
“Long-term care for our seniors and their families should be about improving quality of life,” said Upton. “Our bipartisan bill does that. It will help seniors protect their nest eggs and improve home and community-based services here in Michigan and across the country. I’m glad to partner with Rep. Dingell to push this much-needed fix across the finish line.”
You can read the text of the Protecting Married Seniors from Impoverishment Act here.