Recently, Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation seeking to extend to same-sex couples and Registered Domestic Partners (“RDP’s”) some of the Medi-Cal benefits enjoyed by married couples. The legislation, known as AB 641, was authored by assemblyman Mike Feuer, whose website summarizes the importance as follows:
“Under current law, Medi-Cal’s long term care benefit helps to pay for medical care and services for people who have a chronic illness or disability, including the costs of placing an elderly person into a nursing home. To qualify for this benefit, some recipients are first required to contribute significant resources toward their medical costs. Existing law provides protections for opposite sex married couples that allow them to shield assets so that the spouse outside the nursing home retains a means of financial support and is not forced into poverty by these cost-sharing requirements.
Unfortunately, these critical protections currently do not apply to same sex spouses or registered domestic partners. The federal government recently issued a memo clarifying that states have flexibility in administering the long term care benefit. Assembly Bill 641 enables California to take the lead in ensuring that same sex couples are afforded the same financial protections provided to opposite sex couples.
Without these protections, Californians in same sex relationships risk losing access to joint financial resources, such as their home, bank accounts or stock, when their partner or spouse applies for the Medi-Cal long term care benefit.”
The new law is technically not effective unless and until approved by the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”), and until federal financial participation becomes available. If this occurs, the legislation has been written to be retroactively effective January 1, 2012. Scroll to end of bill, at Section 8 for text of new provisions.