By Kyeland Jackson
Loopholes can allow wealthier families to receive taxpayer-funded medical care while skirting the rules of estate recovery.
This article is reprinted by permission from NextAvenue.org.
When Kevin White talks about his family home, a smile crosses his face.
The Minnesota native created memories in the house. His father built it in the 1960s, tucking it into the quiet forests and hills of Mazeppa, Minnesota. An unused oven reminds White of his mom. The smell of her fresh-baked bread would lure him and the kids she babysat into the kitchen. A chair gathering dust in a corner brings memories of his dad, who sat there for hours carving wood.
The home has been a foundation in White’s family and community for decades, and he plans to pass it on to his son. But a controversial federal law known as estate recovery could cancel his plans.
White’s mother was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2017, and her treatment was expensive. He spent more than $15,000 to help her, but she also received healthcare services through Medicaid.
After two years of treatment, the state informed White that Medical Assistance, Minnesota’s version of Medicaid, had spent $187,000 on his mother — and that, under a federal process called estate recovery, it had placed a lien on the family home to recover some of that money.
Because his mother gave Kevin the house before she died, he is now responsible for the state’s lien on the property. Even worse, when the home’s value rose along with the rest of the housing market, the county reappraised the property and the lien amount doubled.
A lack of trust
“I did exactly what they told me to do, then when I went and had it appraised, they backed out of the deal,” White said. “It’s changed my view of the state to where I think they’re crooked. I don’t trust them at all anymore.”
He may not be the only one.
Medicaid programs across the country must try to recover certain benefits paid on behalf …….