New York pushes back against home-care benefits rule

Share this content:
The state of New York is urging the Obama administration to overturn a rule that denies couples receiving home care the same financial rights as those in nursing homes.

A 20-year old federal law allows the spouse of a Medicaid beneficiary in a nursing home to keep up to $109,560 in personal assets, not including a car or home, and $2,739 per month in combined income from Social Security or other sources. New York had extended that law to include those receiving home healthcare services. But the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued a rule-effective December 2008-that denies these benefits to couples in which both partners live at home. Seniors rights advocates and state lawmakers managed to win a moratorium on the rule until March of this year.

Without an intervention from President Obama, the home healthcare provisions will end, potentially forcing up to 4,000 seniors to choose between entering institutionalized care or entering poverty to continue Medicaid coverage, according to The New York Times. Seniors rights advocates say that forcing seniors into poverty to protect their home health services does not protect anyone and is an "absurd result" of the law, the Times reports.