NAELA & Other Advocates for Persons with Disabilities Send Letter Supporting Efforts to Ensure Minnesota Can Continue to Protect Families Needing Care Services at Home

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Efforts would protect families from choosing between financial ruin or divorce in order to receive Long-Term Services and Supports (LTSS)

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Having protections for spouses is critical and we absolutely support the ACA expansion to require states to provide protections to services at home.

The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) along with more than 20 national aging and disability organizations sent a letter on May 12 to Minnesota Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, along with Reps. Betty McCollum, Collin Peterson, Keith Ellison, Erik Paulsen, and Tom Emmer in support of their efforts to protect Minnesota families from choosing between financial ruin or divorce in order to receive assistance for long-term services and supports (LTSS) at home.

Through a Medicaid waiver program, Minnesota currently allows married couples under age 65 where one of the spouses has a disability to receive services at home without the family losing much of their life savings.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) expanded Medicaid’s spousal protections under federal law from nursing homes to home- and community-based services, but are weaker than Minnesota’s current rules. The ACA provisions are set to expire in 2019 and do not take into account the needs of children in younger families.

The issue arises because the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has interpreted this expansion of protections as a limit as well and will not allow Minnesota to continue with its current rules. The stricter rules are to go into effect in June for new applicants and March 2017 for those already on waiver services.

Advocates hope that CMS will ultimately reconsider its interpretation without the need for legislation.

“Having protections for spouses is critical and we absolutely support the ACA expansion to require states to provide protections to services at home. But they are still fairly weak and if implemented in Minnesota, there is no question younger families will be forced to choose poverty or divorce to qualify,” said NAELA President Shirley Whitenack, Esq.

About NAELA
Members of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) are attorneys who are experienced and trained in working with the legal problems of aging Americans and individuals of all ages with disabilities. Established in 1987, NAELA is a non-profit association that assists lawyers, bar organizations and others. The mission of NAELA is to establish NAELA members as the premier providers of legal advocacy, guidance and services to enhance the lives of people with special needs and people as they age. NAELA currently has members across the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. For more information, visit NAELA.org.

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Abby Matienzo, Communications Manager
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