Amy Klobuchar, Tina Smith

A new bill proposed by U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN) would make permanent spousal impoverishment protections for Medicaid-covered home- and community-based services.

Without passage of this or a similar bill, the protections put in place by Congress 30 years ago to ensure that married couples have access to Medicaid services without having to completely deplete their savings are set to expire in late September.

“When you’re caring for a loved one round-the-clock and serving as your spouse’s support system, you’ve probably already worried about how to make ends meet. You shouldn’t have to worry about your savings completely drying up,” Smith said. “Our bill would make spousal impoverishment protections permanent so families can stay together and get the care they need, surrounded by the people they love.”

In addition to Klobuchar and Smith, the bill is supported by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bob Casey (D-PA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). Both Klobuchar and Gillibrand are candidates for the Democratic nomination for president in the 2020 election.

The bill has garnered support from numerous organizations serving older adults, including LeadingAge.

Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Fred Upton (R-MI) introduced a similar bill, H.R.1343, the Protecting Married Seniors from Impoverishment Act, in the House of Representatives in February.

Another bill, H.R.3253 – Empowering Beneficiaries, Ensuring Access, and Strengthening Accountability Act of 2019, introduced by Dingell in June, passed the House and currently is in the Senate. That bill temporarily would extend the applicability of Medicaid eligibility criteria that protect against spousal impoverishment for recipients of home- and community-based services.

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