U.S. Supreme Court Clarifies Extent of State Medicaid Lien Statutes

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2006-05-26
Authors
McEowen, Roger
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Abstract

Medicaid is the joint federal/state program that pays for long-term health care in a nursing home.1 To be able to receive Medicaid benefits, an individual must meet numerous eligibility requirements but, in short, must have a very minimal level of income and assets. State law typically allows the state Medicaid agency to file a claim in a deceased Medicaid recipient’s estate to recoup Medicaid benefits paid during the recipient’s lifetime,2 and also authorizes a statutory lien to the extent of Medicaid benefits paid.3 In general, the amount of the lien is set at the amount of assistance the state Medicaid agency pays to the individual after the person has been eligible for Medicaid for six months.4 But, while federal law authorizes such state liens on monetary claims the Medicaid recipient may have, it bars placing a lien on a Medicaid recipient’s property before death,5 except under certain circumstances.6

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