State health officials can soon expand how they go after the estates of patients in order to recover Medicaid expenses from individuals who had been on long-term care.
Joint Finance Committee co-chair John Nygren (R-Marinette) argues taxpayers shouldn’t have to flip the bill for someone who can afford to pay. Citing Merriam Webster’s definition of “Medicaid,” Nygren says, “The definition is providing health coverage and care for people who are impoverished. It didn’t say providing care for people whose kids want to inherit their assets. There’s a big difference here.”
Critics call the seizure of assets “government overreach,” saying changes would leave nothing for most seniors to pass on to their children. Representative Jon Richards (D-Milwaukee) voted against the measure. “We are essentially double taxing people who lived their whole lives, played by the rules, and then had something bad happen to them at the end of their life.” He says, “They paid for Medicaid services their entire life, through their taxes, and now we are asking them to repay the state — again.”
Republican Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) said there’s nothing wrong with expecting people to pay for their medical care if they can afford it, rather than putting the burden on taxpayers. By strengthening these efforts, the state could net up to $11 million over the next two years, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
The vote was 10-to-6 to move forward on the program that was signed into law in Governor Walker’s budget. Two Republicans siding with Democrats against it — Senators Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) and Shelia Harsdorf (R-River Falls). Lazich simply wanted to delay action in order to discuss it more thoroughly.
Approval by the committee was needed before implementation could take place October 1st.