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Loss of Community Spousal Protections Looming?

Justice on Aging released the following update today:

"There are numerous federal Medicaid programs and policies that improve access to home and community based services (HCBS) and encourage states to fund and expand HCBS and decrease Medicaid’s bias towards institutional care.

Medicaid’s “spousal impoverishment protections” make it possible for an individual who needs a nursing home level of care to qualify for Medicaid and receive long-term services and supports, while allowing their married spouse to retain a modest amount of income and resources to pay for rent, food, and medication. Congress extended this protection to eligibility for HCBS in all states beginning in 2014, providing married couples the same financial protections whether or not care is provided in a facility or in the community. However, this extension is not permanent.

If these protections were to expire, people who are now eligible for HCBS could be forced to leave their spouse and loved ones and move into more costly institutional care against their wishes. The effect would be to stall, or even reverse, the progress states have made in helping older adults and people with disabilities remain at home and in the community."

We are hopeful that Congress will act to preserve funding efforts for HCBS to allow a spouse to receive services in the home rather than in the nursing home setting and protect the community spouse (healthy spouse) from being subject to impoverishment should this funding fall short. 

Please see below for additional information on the HCBS Waiver. 

HCBS Spousal Impoverishment Protections & Money Follows the Person Program