In 1993, concerned about rising Medicaid costs, Congress made it mandatory for states to try to recover money from the estates of people who used Medicaid for long-term care, which can cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars per person. They included exceptions in cases in which there is a surviving spouse, a minor child and other situations.
Congress also gave states the option to go further — to target the estates of all Medicaid recipients for any benefits they received after age 55, including routine medical care. Many states took that route, including Oregon, which from July 2011 to June 2013 recovered $41 million from about 8,900 people.
The argument had been that “if you’re receiving a public benefit and the state is trying to support you, you should give back if you are able,” said Judy Mohr Peterson, Oregon’s Medicaid director. (Washington Post)