Senators’ new bill would make spousal protections for Medicaid home and community-based services permanent 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith want to permanently ensure that married couples in Minnesota and across the country are able to access home and community-based Medicaid services without having to completely deplete their savings. As the nation’s primary source of coverage for long-term services and supports, Medicaid funds more than 50 percent of long-term care provided nationwide. While many Americans receive this care in institutional settings like nursing homes, in 2014 more than 3 million Americans received this care at home. Three decades ago, Congress established protections—known as spousal impoverishment rules—in cases where a spouse requires institutional care to ensure that the partner remaining at home is not forced to fully deplete financial resources.

Klobuchar and Smith’s bill—the Protecting Married Seniors from Impoverishment Act—would make spousal impoverishment protections for Medicaid-covered home and community-based services permanent. Without their bill, this extension is set to expire in late September of this year.

“America’s seniors deserve to age with dignity—they shouldn’t have to worry about going bankrupt if their partner needs long-term services and supports. Our legislation will extend the spousal impoverishment policy for Medicaid beneficiaries and ensure Minnesota can continue offering more generous protections, allowing married seniors to receive the care they need without losing their life savings,” Klobuchar said.

“When you’re caring for a loved one round-the-clock and serving as your spouse’s support system, you’ve probably already worried about how to make ends meet. You shouldn’t have to worry about your savings completely drying up,” Smith said. “Our bill would make spousal impoverishment protections permanent so families can stay together and get the care they need surrounded by the people they love.”

In addition to Klobuchar and Smith, the bill is supported by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).

A summary of the legislation and a list of supporting organizations can be found here.