Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By C.M. Swanson
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Rayburn, Killerud testify on Medical Assistance estate claim issue

 

Rick Rayburn testifies to the Committee on Health, Human Services and Housing March 14 in St. Paul alongside Sen. Tony Lourey, D-Kerrick. Sen. Lourey introduced Senate File 2501, a bill intending to stop the Minnesota Department of Human Services from placing claims on the estates of people 55-65 years of age who were assigned Medical Assistance.

Finlayson resident Rick Rayburn sat beside Sen. Tony Lourey, D-Kerrick, in St. Paul March 14 testifying to the Committee on Health, Human Services and Housing. Rayburn told the committee how he and his wife were assigned to Medical Assistance through MNsure, which resulted in a $30,000 claim against their estate. (See article series in Moose Lake Star-Gazette February 11, 18 and 25 at http://www.mlstargazette.com.)

Rayburn has become a reluctant celebrity since going public with his plight.

In his testimony, Rayburn reiterated feelings of "disbelief, betrayal and helplessness" of total strangers who telephoned him for advice after finding themselves in the same situation.

Willow River resident Scott Killerud also testified at the hearing. Killerud, whose wife Ellen never used medical services but was charged "phantom premiums" for an accrued claim of $11,000, told the committee he is concerned there is no provision to pay back premiums before death.

"Having a dark shadow over your shoulder that follows you to the grave is not easy to ignore," said Killerud. He also voiced concern about nondisclosure of the estate claim process on the MNsure registration form. He made a plea for the form to be made clear "so people can make informed decisions."

Edina resident and 40-year independent insurance agent Jim Grotz was also at the hearing in support of Sen. Lourey's bill. Grotz told the committee, "The exploitation of hard working Minnesotans has to be stopped." He also noted unauthorized policy switching without estate lien disclosure or prior knowledge "is a crime in all 50 states."

Sen. Lourey sat before the committee to introduce Senate File 2501, a bill intending to stop the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) from placing claims on the estates of people 55-65 years of age who were assigned Medical Assistance via MNsure without their knowledge or consent.

The bill further intends to be retroactive to 2014 so claims, like the one place on the Rayburn's and Killerud's estates, will be dropped. In addition, the bill instructs the DHS to inform all affected parties.

Sen. Lourey noted states have the option to engage or not to engage in the estate claims process.

"It is really this one group of individuals (55-65 on Medical Assistance) that is singled out by this policy," said Sen. Lourey. "I think this is a real problem and one that we should fix."

Sen. Lourey went on to say due to all the media coverage of this situation, his telephone and email has been inundated with calls, not only from his constituents but others as well.

"I'm very sorry for the significant amount of stress this has caused in so many people's lives and their families," said Lourey. "I want to get this cleaned up as soon as possible but I think we are probably going to have to run it into the (omnibus) budget bill and fix it up at the end of session."

After hearing the testimonies of attendees, the members of the Committee on Health, Human Services and Housing passed SF 2501 to the Committee of Finance. Rick Rayburn, Scott Killerud and Jim Grotz will be among those closely following the bill's progress.

"We deserve to disperse our estates as we see fit and not be subjected to a set of conditions that were forced upon us without our knowledge or consent," said Rayburn. He also stated that passage of SF 2501 would "provide closure to those affected" and that "justice will be served."

If you are between 55-65, own a home, have health care coverage but are not paying premiums, you are likely among the 82,000 people in Minnesota affected by the estate claim process put into affect by the expansion of Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act. You may confirm the amount of the claim building against your estate by calling the Minnesota DHS recovery department at (651) 431-3204 or toll free at (800) 657-3963.

A video of Sen. Lourey's introduction of SF 2501 and complete testimony of those attending the March 14 hearing can be seen at: http://mnsenate.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=1&clip_id=126.

 

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