The Government Wants Your House (Medicaid Estate Recovery Update)

Sorry about the yellow journalism headline, but that’s the way it’s going these days. Driven by that lovable low-tax fever,   Michigan is aggressively pursuing homes of deceased nursing home Medicaid recipients.  Actually they want you to sell it and give them the cash. Yes, it is true even though you paid your taxes and committed no crime you can lose your home to the Government if you suffer long term care paid for by Medicaid.

(Stepping off soap box)

The legal news is that the in January the Michigan Supreme Court is hearing a case on the subject of Medicaid estate recovery. It is Department of Health and Human Services v. Rasmer,  et al.  The state is pursuing an aggressive, expansive agenda claiming that it has the unreviewable power to collect against a recipient’s estate even when it never told the recipients it would go after their homes.  The court should rule later this year on whether the Republican Government’s power is reviewable by a court. It should also rule on what kind of notice it must give to potential  Medicaid recipients.

This case is a continuation of the government’s aggressive push to get money from seniors.  For example, the estate recovery statute is supposed to exempt as a hardship a home of modest value.  Last year a case called  Ketchum was decided in the Court of Appeals.  In Ketchum the state went after a home that sold for $30,000!  That is a modest home by any standard, but not according to our government. Lansing wanted the money and got it.

Moral: When it comes to nursing home Medicaid remember there are two critical components to get legal advice on: 1  spend down for initial eligibility; 2. after death “estate recovery.”  With good advice you can avoid the horror stories of Medicaid.