Medicaid Protections Should Be Available To Same-Sex Married Couples
Several major federal agencies have announced that they are now providing federal benefits to same-sex legally married couples. Most recently, the Internal Revenue Service announced that same-sex legally married couples would receive all federal tax rights and responsibilities as provided to heterosexual couples Click here for I.R.S. Release. The best news is that these rights are available regardless of where the couple resides. Living in a non-recognition state has no impact. Additionally, Health & Human Services announced that Medicare benefits would also be provided to same-sex legally married couples regardless of state of residence. Additionally, Health & Human Services announced that Medicare benefits would also be provided to same-sex legally married couples regardless of state of residence.
Medicaid is a federal program that helps pay for long-term care. Now that many federal agencies are complying with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Windsor Windsor legal decision, it seems apropos that the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) follow suit and provide same-sex legally married couples with federal Medicaid spousal impoverishment protections. The goal of Medicaid spousal impoverishment protections is to enable the healthy spouse to remain in the home and have sufficient financial resources to care for themself. This is critical when a couple is coping with of one spouse having a chronic illness that cannot be cured. When a married couple faces an illness together the experience is the same regardless of sexual orientation, race, color, or origin. The couple needs and deserves financial security. Medical spousal impoverishment protections include:
- The healthy spouse keeping more financial resources than the ill spouse. In Florida, the healthy spouse can keep up to $115,920.00.
- The healthy spouse having a minimal level of income to help pay for the maintenance of the home. In Florida, the healthy spouse should have a minimum of $1,891.25/month and if below that level is entitled to request diversion of income from the ill spouse.
- Permitting the couple to transfer resources to the healthy spouse with no penalty, look-back period, or delay in qualifying for Medicaid.
- Protecting the home while the ill spouse is alive as well as after the ill spouse has died.
While the issue of federal benefits being available to same-sex legally married couples is a politically sensitive issue, the reality is that federal benefits must be made available to everyone equally and fairly. This morning I sent a letter to Cynthia Mann, Deputy Director of CMS. My request is supported by the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). NAELA.
I will keep my readers posted on the outcome of the request. In the meantime, be an informed and prepared consumer. Schedule a consultation today and be on your way to creating an effective estate and long-term care plan. Discount coupon for consultation.