ST. PAUL, Minn. – In the complicated world of Medical Assistance (MA), there exists several provisions which put seniors and persons with disabilities at a significant disadvantage. Sen. John Hoffman (DFL-Champlin, Brooklyn Park and Coon Rapids) introduced two pieces of legislation this week that addresses the inequities in the current Medical Assistance “spenddown” system.
Senate File 543, authored by Sen. Hoffman, addresses increasing the MA income eligibility limit, the asset limits and the spenddown for people with disabilities and the elderly. This bill brings equity to people with disabilities and seniors who need MA, by increasing the income and asset limits for eligibility consistent with other MA eligible groups. This bill would also increase the asset limit from $3,000 for an individual, to $10,000 per person or $18,000 for a couple.
Currently, if someone’s income is not at the poverty level, which is about $11,000 per year, they must spend $2,750 (25 percent) of their income on medical bills before they can receive coverage from MA. Increasing the spenddown would allow persons with disabilities and seniors to receive the health care they need without living in extreme poverty. All other groups now on MA spend down to 100% of the poverty level.
“This legislation will affect 40,000 people with disabilities and seniors and will make it much easier for them to remain as independent as possible in their communities. When these people receive the care they need and maintain their financial independence, they can be more active members of our communities, which is good for everyone,” said Hoffman.
The second bill, S.F. 566, would make it easier for the health care community to provide services for persons with disabilities and seniors. Currently, when someone has to spenddown their income by receiving medical care, the provider has to act as a collector to get their payment. This legislation would place the collection burden on the state and require the state to reimburse the provider for the full MA rate of the services provided.
“I am really proud to work on these proposals. I know it can be complicated, but for people living through this incredible disparity it will be the difference between barely being able to pay their bills, and a life that’s a little more comfortable,” said Hoffman.
Hoffman further indicated both of these bills are about fairness and bringing equity to the world of MA eligibility. While expensive, the bills will go a long way to improving the lives of tens of thousands of Minnesotans.
You can contact Sen. Hoffman at Sen.John.Hoffman@senate.mn or by calling his office at (651) 296-4154.