The hidden tax trap
The issue that needs to be examined is the ‘claw back’ provision of Medicaid. Unfortunately, even many legislators and health care navigators are not aware of this problem. This provision in the law is punitive and prejudicial. It will be imposed only on the very poor -- those who qualify for Medicaid. This is a death tax only on the very poor. Will poor unmarried citizens be ‘penalized’ for their low income and also for not having a spouse? Marriage might offer some protection. Those who are dirt poor will now even have their dirt taxed away from any heirs. Of course, those with accountants, lawyers, and financial planners may find a way to avoid this unfair tax -- but poor people do not have that kind of support system.
It will be helpful if legislators address this problem. If they don’t decisions will be made by nameless, faceless, anonymous bureaucrats who can never be held responsible for their decisions. Silent, voiceless, disenfranchised citizens will be victimized.
Per an article that ran in the Seattle Times on Dec. 15, 2013: " ... In Oregon, state officials changed estate-recovery rules last month. Recovery will no longer apply to health benefits for those 55 and over, the Oregon Health Authority said, although the state will collect expenses for long-term care ... "
The ‘claw back’ provision creates a few conundrums. Do health care navigators have an ethical obligation to inform those they sign up for Medicaid? If a client has not been informed of the risk should the application be invalidated ... sort of a ‘truth in lending’ principle?
Part of the problem is that the laws around health care are too complex. No one understands them. It has been reported that the law providing for the Canadian Health Care system was 14 pages -- as compared to the more than 2000 pages for ACA.
How many other surprises are hidden in the new law and the old law? In the past, Medicaid had a ‘claw back’ provision which usually was applied only to long-term care. Now, if ACA expands the ‘claw back’ provision, increasing numbers of families will be affected. This is one more reason why we need a simple Single Payer system. Those few who know about the ‘claw back’ provision are now searching for a way to opt-out of Medicaid. Apparently there is no legal way to opt-out. This is a hidden tax trap on the poor.
I hope I am wrong about all of this, but many respected sources have been sending out the warning. Paul Craig Roberts’ article titled "Obamacare -- Final Payment -- Raiding Assets of Low Income Poor Americans" is available on the Internet at:
Rosemarie Jackowski is a resident of Bennington.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.