Elder law attorneys and their clients achieved two major victories in the state’s recently finalized 2012-2013 budget. They beat back a proposal by Governor Andrew Cuomo to remove the right of spousal refusal for those seeking Medicaid coverage of care in the community. Not only that, but they managed to include in the new budget repeal of expanded estate recovery rules enacted in last year's budget.
Gov. Cuomo’s budget plan initially had a proposal to make spousal refusal invalid unless the spouse both refused to provide care and assistance and was absent from the home.
Members of the New York State Bar Association’s Elder Law Section and the New York Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys rallied to fight the proposal, arguing that eliminating spousal refusal for those seeking care in the community would encourage separation and divorce and force the elderly to enter nursing homes.
In February, elder law attorneys traveled to the State Capitol in Albany to lobby in person for the preservation of the spousal refusal option and, secondarily, for the repeal expanded Medicaid estate recovery. When the final budget was unveiled in late March, the the spousal refusal provision was gone and recovery was once again limited to the probate estate.
“This is a tremendous achievement which highlights the importance of a solid advocacy partnership between the Elder Law Section of the NYS Bar Association and the New York Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys to protect New York’s seniors and disabled citizens,” said ElderLawAnswers member Michael Amoruso, who is Past Chair of the Elder Law Section and Past President of NY NAELA.
Fellow New York attorney Rich Shapiro, writing in his NY Estate and Wealth Planning blog, said that the expanded estate recovery rules “would have unfairly penalized those thousands of New Yorkers who had years ago transferred title to their homes to their children while retaining a life estate in the home” and would likely have led to protracted litigation.