Lawmakers OK Medicaid limits for LTC, lottery winners

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House lawmakers on Tuesday gave the greenlight to two pieces of legislation that call for minor changes to the Medicaid program — but may signal the start of ramped up efforts to overhaul the program.

One of the bills approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee would close what's been described as a “loophole” in the program related to annuities own by couples. Currently, Medicaid regulations consider an annuity owned by a couple where one spouse lives in a nursing home to belong to the spouse that still lives in the community.

Under H.R. 181, state Medicaid programs would be allowed to count some of the income from annuities when determining the the institutionalized spouse's eligibility for long-term care. Democratic lawmakers have criticized the proposal as“a step in the wrong direction going after the wrong people,” and harmful to the spouses of long-term care residents with chronic diseases, Bloomberg BNA reported.

The second bill, H.R. 829, would place limits on Medicaid eligibility for lottery winners who take their winnings as a lump sum, and consider the payments as if they were given over the course of several months.

“These bills will empower states with more flexibility, and help prioritize the Medicaid program for the most vulnerable,” Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) said. “And this important flexibility and reform are exactly what governors are begging for us to give them.”