Senator Kelly Introduces Legislation to Protect Community Spouses from Becoming Impoverished

February 26, 2013

Bill Would Increase the Amount of Assets a Spouse Can Keep when one Spouse enters a Nursing Home on Medicaid

Hartford – State Senator Kevin C. Kelly (R-21) recently introduced legislation that would protect seniors from becoming impoverished when their spouse enters a nursing home. Senate Bill 93, An Act Concerning the Community Spouse of an Institutionalized Person is currently being considered during the 2013 legislative session.

“Connecticut seniors are not immune to the high cost of living in our state,” said Senator Kelly. “The financial burden of retirement is significant and includes electrical, heating and maintenance costs and local, state and federal taxes. As if these challenges were not enough, the high costs of health care become all the more daunting as we grow older, and so I introduced this legislation to provide some relief to seniors who wish to age in place.”

Senator Kelly’s proposal would increase the amount of assets that may be retained by the spouse of an institutionalized Medicaid recipient. It would allow the community spouse to have additional assets and allow their institutionalized spouse to remain covered by Medicaid.

On Thursday, February 14th, Senator Kelly submitted testimony supporting the bill during a public hearing of the General Assembly’s Human Services Committee. He remarked that the state must do more to support seniors who wish to receive community-based care and age in place.

“The Money Follows the Person program is a legislative acknowledgement that community based home care is a viable and preferred environment for healthcare as we age,” continued Senator Kelly. “In the same way that we encourage and support this program, we should support initiatives that would allow seniors to stay in their homes longer, which is what this bill seeks to do. Through this bill, we are allowing seniors to keep more money in their pockets, allowing them to stay in our communities longer, and making aging in place an option for our elder population.”

The federal Medicaid Catastrophic Coverage Act of 1988 created the Community Spouse Protected Amount. One of its principal purposes of this Act was to allow the community spouse of a nursing home resident to avoid impoverishment while allowing the institutionalized spouse to qualify for Medicaid. At the time, Congress sought to alleviate the spousal impoverishment that resulted from the spend-down of marital income and resources for the medical care of an institutionalized spouse by setting a minimum standard of support to enable to community spouse to avoid impoverishment.

The proposed bill now awaits further action by the Human Services Committee.