Surprise: Under Obamacare, states can seize assets to recoup Medicaid expenses

Friday, March 07, 2014 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: Obamacare, assets seizure, Medicaid expenses

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(NaturalNews) Obamacare is just full of surprises, as more Americans are beginning to realize now that the law has been fully implemented.

If you've followed news about the Affordable Care Act, you know that the law dramatically expands Medicaid coverage by raising the qualifying income level to include tens of millions of Americans who, before Obamacare, made too much money to qualify; this is part of the massive wealth-transfer aspect of the law.

It turns out that there is much more wealth transfer taking place than previously believed, as reported by Fox News:

Tom Gialanella, 56, was shocked to find out he qualified for Medicaid under ObamaCare. The Bothell, Wash., resident had been able to retire early years ago, owns his home outright in a pricey Seattle suburb and is living off his investments.

He wanted no part of the government's so-called free health care. "It's supposed to be a safety net program. It's not supposed to be for someone who has assets who can pay the bill," he said.

And after reading the fine print, Gialanella had another reason to flee Medicaid -- the potential death debt.

Expanded coverage will lead to expanded fiscal confiscation

Most Americans don't realize it - because the government sure as heck isn't telling anyone - but under Obamacare, states are allowed to recover the cost of healthcare from someone enrolled in Medicaid under provisions of the Affordable Care Act after they die by seizing their assets. It's true.

What's more, the law isn't really inherent to Obamacare; the assets seizure has applied to Medicaid recipients between the ages of 55 and 64 since 1993, when Congress came to understand that states were spending themselves broke over rising Medicaid costs.

Still, isn't the federal government supposed to pick up most of the costs for expanded Medicaid coverage? Well, yes. Some say the law's authors added that provision in order to entice more states to accept expanded Medicaid coverage (a majority of Supreme Court justices, in deciding the constitutionality of Obamacare, ruled as part of their decision that the federal government could not force states to expand coverage).

But Uncle Sam's deal to pick up the costs of the expanded coverage ends after a few years, and then states themselves will have to take on additional costs. So asset seizures are bound to go up as the number of enrollees in the targeted age group increases.

The Seattle Times reported last month:

Medicaid, in keeping with federal policy, has long tapped into estates. But because most low-income adults without disabilities could not qualify for typical medical coverage through Medicaid, recovery primarily involved expenses for nursing homes and other long-term care.

The federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) changed that. Now many more low-income residents will qualify for Medicaid.

A huge money grab

The paper went on to report that a Washington State couple decided to get married recently so that their combined income would keep them out of Medicaid and permit them to then qualify for the purchase of a plan through the state's Obamacare exchange. If they had filed as individuals, their incomes would have been low enough that they would each have qualified for Medicaid.

The Times story led Washington's governor, Democrat Jay Inslee, to issue an emergency rule change stating that Washington may only recover the cost of nursing home care provided to Medicaid recipients in the prescribed age group, which is the minimum allowable under the 1993 law, Fox News said.

"We have this population that we want to make sure they have access to health care," said state Medicaid Director MaryAnne Lindeblad. "We want them to get in so they can get the kinds of services that keep them healthy."

Oregon followed suit shortly thereafter, but thus far, 23 other states that took the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare have opted not to change their estate recovery rules, meaning there is quite a bit of money at stake.

"I think that people are maybe in for a shock when they find out their heirs are going to be paying for their care, because they got into a system under false pretenses," Dr. Jane Orient, of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a group opposed to the Affordable Care Act, told Fox.


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