Oregonians! Don't Be Afraid of the Oregon Health Plan (Medicaid)

Many Oregonians who qualify for free health coverage through Medicaid via the Oregon Health Plan (OHP) are refusiing to sign up because they fear that the State will come after their assets when they die.  There was a good deal of confusion early on because the rules had not been updated to reflect the expansion of Medicaid to a larger number of people based on income alone, not assets.  

Here is what the Oregon Health Authority published in November, 2013 when they updated their forms to correct the Medicaid Recovery issue:

Estate Recovery and the Oregon Health Plan

The Oregon Health Authority will no longer implement estate recovery for OHP clients

What is happening?
The Oregon Health Authority is changing the policy on estate recovery for the Oregon Health Plan benefit. The Oregon Health Plan (OHP) is Oregon’s public medical, dental and menta health care benefit.

For any coverage that starts October 1, 2013 or later, members of OHP who are not receiving long-term care services will not be subject to estate recovery. This policy change affects all current and future enrollees on OHP.

Why this is happening?
OHA is making this change because the estate recovery program was not designed for health benefit programs such as OHP Plus. It was designed for long -term care services for people who need them due to age or disability. It allows for reimbursement of public dollars for long-term care services. These are services that go beyond medical care or hospitalization. Long-term care services can include care in a nursing home care, community-based care, such as a Foster Home or Assisted Living Facility, or full-time assistance with daily living in an individual’s own home. Long-term care is not a covered service under OHP Plus.


Here is what FactCheck.Org has to say:

Q: Does the Affordable Care Act allow states to confiscate the estates of seniors on Medicaid when they die?

A: No, but a 1993 federal law requires states to recover Medicaid costs for long-term care from the estates of deceased Medicaid beneficiaries over the age of 55.

The interaction of the federal Affordable Care Act and existing state Medicaid estate recovery laws is a legitimate issue and something that Medicaid recipients need to understand before they sign up. They should know that the rules vary from state to state, with some states dunning the estates of deceased Medicaid beneficiaries for all Medicaid costs and others just for long-term care. And the rules keep changing. AARP’s Moorhead says so far two states (Washington and Oregon) have changed their rules to limit estate recovery to Medicaid costs related to long-term care, as required by the 1993 federal law.

So please do not hesitate to sign up for OHP because of the Estate Recovery Program. If you are worried about the fact that your income fluctuates and you may go in and out of OHP eligibility, you may want to attend an information session about Oregon's Basic Health program on May 8th in either Corvallis or Monroe.