State Considers End To “Spousal Refusal” To Pay For Nursing Home Care – Newsday

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo
Photo Credit: AP / Hans Pennink

New York State may end the practice of “spousal refusal” for elderly couples, which many argue keeps one spouse out of poverty as Medicaid pays for the other’s nursing home care, according to a story by NEWSDAY’s Michael Gormley.

With spousal refusal, the “well” spouse can legally refuse to pay for a nursing home for the other, redirecting the bill to Medicaid. But Governor Cuomo has mandated a $2.5 billion cut to the state’s Medicaid budget and has asked that spousal refusal be considered as part of those decreases.

Eldercare advocates such as the New York City Bar Association and the elder law panel of the state Bar Association oppose eliminating spousal refusal. A panel study said that without spousal refusal, the funds remaining for everyday expenses for the other spouse “are completely unrealistic for living expenses throughout most of New York state today.”

John Dalli, a partner at the law firm Dalli & Marino, LLP agrees that ending spousal refusal would have a negative impact on families.

“Families already struggling with skyrocketing medical expenses would be further disadvantaged,” said Dalli. “Elderly couples could be forced to give up all their savings and assets to pay the nursing home bills for only one spouse.”

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