FROM OUR COMMUNITY: Be aware of important policy change or risk losing support

FROM OUR COMMUNITY: Be aware of important policy change or risk losing support

(From NAMI Minnesota)

In early September NAMI learned that a new policy to verify assets of some people on Medicaid went into effect on September 1. This largely impacts adults who are on Medical Assistance (MA) due to their disability (on a CADI waiver, MA-EPD, live in a long-term care facility, etc.) and whose eligibility is based on the amount of assets they have. It doesn’t include children. 

Under the new policy they must complete and sign a new form to allow the state to verify that their assets are not exceeding the limit. The state is mailing out this form between August 2019 and April 2020. Signed forms must be returned to the address listed in the letter. 

The problem with the policy is that individuals have only 10 days to return this form. If the form is not returned within this time period, the bulletin states that the person will lose their MA. DHS said that MA disability recipients will receive a second letter notifying them that they will lose their health insurance on the first of the month if they do not return this form in 10 days. There is no self-addressed stamped envelope with the form. Signed forms must be returned to the address listed in the letter. 

Mental health advocates have no problem with the policy itself, which requires people on MA due to their disability to fill out and sign a form so that DHS can verify that their assets do not exceed the eligibility limits. The law already places a limit on the amount of assets someone can own, and this just creates a process to verify the assets. This new policy impacts people on MA who are receiving long-term care, are on a disability waiver such as CADI, or are on MA-EPD. 

Advocates have a problem with the implementation of the policy that requires the form to be returned within 10 days. If this form is not returned within this time period, the bulletin states that the person will lose their MA. DHS said that MA disability recipients will receive a second letter notifying them that they will lose their health insurance on the first of the month if they do not return this form. 

Ten days is simply too short a time period. It presumes that people’s addresses are current, that they open their mail daily or at least once a week, that they have an envelope and stamp, that they are at home and not in the hospital or residential treatment, and that they will be able to understand how to fill out the form without assistance. 

NAMI Minnesota is very concerned that people will not send the form back resulting in them losing their health insurance. “Ten days is simply not enough time,” said Sue Abderholden, executive director of NAMI Minnesota, “It presumes that people’s addresses are current, that they open their mail daily or at least once a week, that they have an envelope and stamp and that they will be able to understand how to fill out the form without assistance.” It’s not uncommon for addresses not to be current and at times people’s symptoms make it difficult to stay on top of paperwork. 

“The end result will be that people will lose their health insurance,” said Shannah Mulvihill, executive director of Mental Health Minnesota. 

NAMI Minnesota is extremely disappointed with the way in which DHS has gotten the word out on this change. When the stakes are this high, it is simply not enough to bury information about the ten-day timeline to return the asset verification form on page 6 of a department bulletin. 

Mental health advocates want to make sure that people who are on MA and their families know of this very important change. Any time people’s health insurance could be terminated there should be increased efforts to be sure that the general public knows and there should be a process to ensure that people don’t lose their health insurance due to poor addresses or the impact of the very symptoms that led to someone becoming eligible for MA. 

Another issue under the CADI waiver is that if someone is hospitalized more than 30-days they lose their CADI waiver and have to reapply and be reassessed. This can take anywhere from 30 to 90 days. Meanwhile the person is no longer hospitalized but also has no supports. 

If you or a loved one is receiving MA due to a disability; it is very important that you check your mail and promptly return this form to your county. If you aren’t going to meet the 10-day timeline or the deadline has passed, please contact your case manager or financial worker right away. 

Please contact us at namihelps@namimn.org if you have any questions about this process or you are at risk of losing your health insurance due to this change.