ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

MNsure estate claims fix caught in legislative muddle

The fate of claims against the estates of Minnesotans who have received Medical Assistance is caught in the tussle over spending as the Minnesota Legislature enters the last weekend of its session.

The fate of claims against the estates of Minnesotans who have received Medical Assistance is caught in the tussle over spending as the Minnesota Legislature enters the last weekend of its session.

"It's rolled up with a bunch of spending," said state Rep. Matt Dean, R-White Bear Lake, the principal author in the House of a bill that would end the practice. "I just hope it doesn't become a casualty of a partisan argument, because it's something we all agree needs to happen."

The News Tribune reported on Feb. 14 that some Minnesotans discovered thousands of dollars in claims had been filed against their properties since being placed on Medical Assistance - the state's version of Medicaid - via MNsure within the past two years.

Recipients of Medical Assistance don't pay a premium, but if they are from ages 55-64 a claim equivalent to the premiums is placed against their estates. They are assessed as liens against those who inherit the property.

Three Pine County property owners quoted in the Feb. 14 story said they were taken unawares when they discovered the estate claims late last year and early this year. They said the MNsure navigators and insurance brokers they spoke with had said nothing about the claims and that it wasn't clear on the MNsure website. They also said they weren't given the option of choosing MinnesotaCare, which would have required a relatively small premium but wouldn't have led to an estate claim.

ADVERTISEMENT

Bills authored in the House by Dean and in the Senate by Sen. Tony Lourey, DFL-Kerrick, proposed to end the estate claims retroactive to 2014, meaning the existing estate claims would be forgiven.

There is a cost to the legislation, Dean said, which is why it was wrapped into the omnibus Health and Human Services spending bill. But both he and Lourey are on the conference committee considering the bill, Dean said, which bodes well for the estate claim fix.

According to the Minnesota Management and Budget office's fiscal analysis, the fix would cost $2.25 million to implement in fiscal year 2017 and $2.37 million in both 2018 and 2019.

Lourey couldn't be reached for comment on Friday.

Those potentially affected by the claims were waiting apprehensively as the Legislature neared its Monday closing date.

"I think a lot of us are feeling like we're in the wash cycle where we can't see anything," said Claudia Foussard, 61, of St. Paul who discovered in February that nearly $20,000 in claims had been placed against her estate. "I feel really blinded to what's going on right now. It's like this shrouded group of the legislators."

Julie Gelle of Sandstone, who with her husband, Robert, faces more than $15,000 in claims, said she got a call from an aide to Lourey on Friday morning who said they're optimistic.

Gelle wasn't so sure.

ADVERTISEMENT

"Half of me says: Forget it, it's not going to go anywhere," Gelle said. "The other half says be optimistic, it's gonna pass."

She expects to lose some sleep this weekend waiting for the outcome, she said.

"(The aide) said they probably wouldn't know until Monday morning," Gelle said.

Related Topics: HEALTH
What To Read Next
The system crashed earlier this month, grounding flights across the U.S.