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Now is the Time to Reform Medi-Cal Recovery-
Let Your Voices Be Heard!

SB 33 (Hernandez) includes the most important Medi-Cal Recovery changes since 1993, Co-sponsored by CANHR and Western Center on Law and Poverty, SB 33:

  • Limits recovery for those aged 55 and over to what is required to be recovered by federal law – e.g. nursing facility, home and community based services and related hospital and prescription drug services –and eliminates recovery for optional services;
  • Limits recovery to the probate estate, as permitted by federal law;
  • Eliminates recovery from the estate of a surviving spouse of a deceased Medi-Cal beneficiary;
  • Exempts homesteads of modest value from recovery;
  • Limits the amount of interest on estate claims that is currently 7% per annum; and
  • Requires the Department to provide consumers upon request with the amount of Medi-Cal expenses that have been paid on his or her behalf.

SB 33 (Hernandez), now a two-year bill, is in the Assembly awaiting passage. In the 2015 legislative session, having passed the Senate Floor by 37-0, the Assembly Health Committee by 17-1 and Assembly Appropriations by 17-0, SB 33 has clearly bipartisan support. In 2014, SB 1124 – a similar bill - was vetoed by the Governor, although the Governor did express the intent to revisit the wisdom of such recovery. Now is the time for our Governor and his Finance staff to stop delaying and help pass SB 33 into law.

The total amount recovered by the state’s Medi-Cal program amounts to less than 1% of the total Medi-Cal budget. Furthermore, the cost of this inequitable system far outweighs the benefits. Generations of families lose their family homes. Many Californians are deterred from seeking health care coverage altogether. Minority and low-income communities are disproportionately impacted, because they can rarely afford $300/hour or more attorney fees for estate planning, and are not adequately informed of their rights regarding the transfer of their homes in the first place.

California only recoups costs from the lowest-income Californians. Higher income beneficiaries who receive health care subsidies through the Affordable Care Act are not required to repay the state. This inequitable recovery system helps create a new generation of Medi-Cal beneficiaries, forcing low-income families to sell their homes to pay off the claim, or make monthly payments while being charged 7% interest.

We urge you to spread the word about SB 33 and to write to the Governor and urge his support. Help reform this uniquely unfair Medi-Cal recovery system that destabilizes low income communities and causes so much grief.

Page Last Modified: August 24, 2015