Trapped in America's Safety Net

Trapped in America's Safety Net

One Family's Struggle

Andrea Louise Campbell

Some states have made changes to their asset rules. Twenty-four have eliminated their asset tests for Medicaid, partly for administrative simplicity and cost savings: it’s cheaper simply to cover poor people than to hound them about their assets and then deny care. 15 Forty-seven states have eliminated their asset test for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. And in order to promote personal savings and greater financial security, President Obama’s fiscal 2011 budget proposed raising asset tests for federally funded means-tested programs such as TANF, food stamps, and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program to a minimum of $ 10,000. But in the polarized Congress this proposal went nowhere, and it wouldn’t have helped the many poor people in state programs that still have asset tests. The Affordable Care Act eliminates the Medicaid asset test for those newly eligible for Medicaid, but this doesn’t help Dave and Marcella, who are still under the state asset test because of her being in a previously eligible group, the disabled. If only California would follow the lead of half the states and lift its Medi-Cal asset test, it would make a huge difference in their lives.

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