(a) It is the intent of the Legislature, with the amendments made to this section by the act that added subdivision (g), to do all of the following:
(1) Limit Medi-Cal estate recovery only for those services required to be collected under federal law.
(2) Limit the definition of “estate” to include only the real and personal property and other assets required to be collected under federal law.
(3) Require the State Department of Health Care Services to implement the option in the State Medicaid Manual to waive its claim, as a substantial hardship, when the estate subject to recovery is a homestead of modest value, subject to federal approval.
(4) Prohibit recovery from the estate of a deceased Medi-Cal member who is survived by a spouse or registered domestic partner.
(5) Ensure that Medi-Cal members can easily and timely receive information about how much their estate may owe Medi-Cal when they die.
(b) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the department shall claim against the estate of the decedent, or against any recipient of the property of that decedent by distribution, an amount equal to the payments for the health care services received or the value of the property received by any recipient from the decedent by distribution, whichever is less, only in either of the following circumstances:
(1) Against the real property of a Medi-Cal member of any age who meets the criteria in Section 1396p(a)(1)(B) of Title 42 of the United States Code and who was or is an inpatient in a nursing facility in accordance with Section 1396p(b)(1)(A) of Title 42 of the United States Code.
(2) (A) The decedent was 55 years of age or older when the individual received health care services.
(B) The department shall not claim under this paragraph when there is any of the following:
(i) A surviving spouse or surviving registered domestic partner.
(ii) A surviving child who is under 21 years of age.
(iii) A surviving child who is blind or disabled, within the meaning of Section 1614 of the federal Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. Sec. 1382c).
(c) (1) The department shall waive its claim, in whole or in part, if it determines that enforcement of the claim would result in substantial hardship to other dependents, heirs, or survivors of the individual against whose estate the claim exists.
(2) In determining the existence of substantial hardship, in addition to other factors considered by the department consistent with federal law and guidance, the department shall, subject to federal approval, waive its claim when the estate subject to recovery is a homestead of modest value.
(3) The department shall notify individuals of the waiver provision and the opportunity for a hearing to establish that a waiver should be granted.
(d) If the department proposes and accepts a voluntary postdeath lien, the voluntary postdeath lien shall accrue interest at the rate equal to the annual average rate earned on investments in the Surplus Money Investment Fund in the calendar year preceding the year in which the decedent died or simple interest at 7 percent per annum, whichever is lower.
(e) (1) The department shall provide a current or former member, or his or her authorized representative designated under Section 14014.5, upon request, a copy of the amount of Medi-Cal expenses that may be recoverable under this section through the date of the request. The information may be requested once per calendar year for a fee to cover the department’s reasonable administrative costs, not to exceed five dollars ($5) if the current or former member meets either of the following descriptions:
(A) An individual who is 55 years of age or older when the individual received health care services.
(B) A permanently institutionalized individual who is an inpatient in a nursing facility, intermediate care facility for the intellectually disabled, or other medical institution.
(2) The department shall permit a member to request the information described in paragraph (1) through the Internet, by telephone, by mail, or through other commonly available electronic means. Upon receipt of the request for information described in paragraph (1), the department shall work with the member to ensure that the member submits documentation necessary to identify the individual and process the member’s request.
(3) The department shall conspicuously post on its Internet Web site a description of the methods by which a request under this subdivision may be made, including, but not limited to, the department’s telephone number and any addresses that may be used for this purpose. The department shall also include this information in its pamphlet for the Medi-Cal Estate Recovery Program and any other notices the department distributes to members specifically regarding estate recovery.
(4) Upon receiving a request for the information described in paragraph (1) and all necessary supporting documentation, the department shall provide the information requested within 90 days after receipt of the request.
(f) The following definitions shall govern the construction of this section:
(1) “Decedent” means a member who has received health care under this chapter or Chapter 8 (commencing with Section 14200) and who has died leaving property to others through distribution.
(2) “Dependents” includes, but is not limited to, immediate family or blood relatives of the decedent.
(3) “Estate” means all real and personal property and other assets in the individual’s probate estate that are required to be subject to a claim for recovery pursuant to Section 1396p(b)(4)(A) of Title 42 of the United States Code.
(4) “Health care services” means only those services required to be recovered under Section 1396p(b)(1)(B)(i) of Title 42 of the United States Code.
(5) “Homestead of modest value” means a home whose fair market value is 50 percent or less of the average price of homes in the county where the homestead is located, as of the date of the decedent’s death.
(g) The amendments made to this section by the act that added this subdivision shall apply only to individuals who die on or after January 1, 2017.
(Amended by Stats. 2016, Ch. 30, Sec. 22. (SB 833) Effective June 27, 2016.)
Last modified: October 25, 2018