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Yes… history has repeated itself. This year is yet another year in which a New York State Governor submitted a budget Bill that included a proposal to eliminate Medicaid “spousal refusal” in Medicaid community based care. And once again, New York State Bar Association: Elder Law Section has worked hard in opposing this change. Thankfully this proposal has been omitted from the final Bill and “spousal refusal” will continue to be available in community based care cases.
In the past, New York has attempted to eliminate spousal refusal in nursing home cases as well. However, this would be in violation of the federal law, and therefore New York State has backed off from that position.
While federal law protects spousal refusal in nursing home cases, it does not offer the same protections in cases involving home care. New York State community based home care is a home care program for which there is no federal law in place to protect New Yorkers who seek Medicaid home care services.
At the same time, New York has recognized that we need to take care of our seniors at home. This is especially true of the seniors living in New York City, because as a practical matter, where would they go for care?
When you get down to it, seniors who are married need the protection of spousal refusal to allow them to take care of the non-applying spouse in the community. We are talking about survival for the majority of seniors today. Not to mention, how about allowing them the best quality of life which they deserve.
So, I proudly report that Spousal Refusal is alive and well in New York.