Posted September 8, 202312:30 pm
By Bilal Mozaffar, 2023 Summer Associate with Legal Aid's Economic Justice Practice Group
Homeowners who have Medicaid may not realize their homes could be transferred to the State of Ohio instead of to relatives after they die.
In 1993, Congress wanted Medicaid to get back some of the money that it spent. To do that, Congress created a process known as Medicaid Estate Recovery (MER). MER lets Medicaid collect healthcare costs by taking people’s property after they pass away. In Ohio, MER allows Medicaid to take a person’s home, even if the person wanted to pass the home onto someone else.
There are some ways that MER can be postponed. If a deceased person who was on Medicaid has (a) a spouse; (b) a child under 21; or (c) a child who is blind or disabled, the State will not take the house from that person. Also, if the deceased had (d) siblings who lived in the home for at least one year before the person was moved to a nursing home or other care facility, that sibling caregiver would be allowed to keep the home. Finally, (e) a child of the deceased who is over 21 and who lived in the home for at least two years and cared for their parent before they moved into a facility is allowed to continue living in the home. If any of these individuals who have the legal right to the home decide to sell it, then Medicaid will take the proceeds of the home sale.
MER can be canceled altogether if losing the home would create significant hardship for the potential heir. In those situations, the heir can ask the Ohio Attorney General (AG) for an “undue hardship waiver.” As soon as the AG mails the MER claim to the person responsible for the deceased person’s estate (or to anyone who received the deceased person’s property), that person can contact the AG’s MER office and explain why it would be difficult for them if the home was taken by the State. If the AG’s office agrees, then the home will not be taken.
The MER rules allow the State to take a home under many circumstances. Therefore, families that have an ailing homeowner on Medicaid should learn about options to protect their property. Learn more on the Ohio Department of Medicaid’s website. Visit medicaid.ohio.gov and type “Medicaid Estate Recovery” in the search bar.
This article was published in Legal Aid's newsletter, "The Alert" Volume 39, Issue 2, in September 2023. See full issue at this link: “The Alert”- Volume 39, Issue 2 – Legal Aid Society of Cleveland.