Issue Brief: Medicaid Enrollees Put at Risk When State Medicaid Programs Assume Support from Family Caregivers

A new Issue Brief reveals how states’ assumptions often deprive Medicaid recipients of needed assistance.

Under Medicaid law, all assistance by friends and family members must be voluntary. This brief, based on a review of over 100 administrative decisions in several states, shows how Medicaid programs violate this law to the detriment of people on Medicaid. Medicaid programs often deny services based on family assistance that is not available. This puts lives at risk, increases the chances that a beneficiary will have to be institutionalized, and forces families to make impossible choices between caring for a family member and going to work.

The issue brief outlines states’ responsibility to respect the voluntary nature of assistance, examines how some states approach the issue, and suggests public policy responses to ensure that states authorize adequate assistance.

Rachel Gershon, of the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Center for Health Law and Economics co-authored this paper with Justice in Aging attorney, Eric Carlson. The paper is part of a post-fellowship project with Justice in Aging and the Borchard Foundation Center on Law and Aging. 

Katrina Cohens

About Katrina Cohens

Katrina Cohens is based in Justice in Aging’s Washington, DC office and serves as the Database Manager.