The new page was designed in collaboration with a statewide working group of advocates, which advocated for these changes to increase access to Medicaid for those allowed to "spend down" excess income to qualify -- people age 65+, people with disabilities, and children under 21 and their parents and other caretaker relatives.
The new web page is in Q & A format. It can be found from the main state Medicaid page http://nyhealth.gov/health_care/medicaid/ In the list of bullets at the top, scroll down and click on the 8th bullet for What is the Medicaid Excess Income Program?. This launches a new web page with the Q & A., in which DOH incorporates many of the suggestions from the working group.
The working group includes the three organizations that sponsor the New York Health Access website -- Empire Justice Center, Legal Aid Society, and Selfhelp Community Services, along with the Center for Independence of Disabled of New York (CIDNY), the National Center for Law and Economic Justice, and the Medicare Rights Center.
The working group was convened when a report, Streamlining New York's Excess Income Program, was issued in May, 2009 by the New York State Health Foundation., written by Manatt Health Solutions. The working group's comments reacting to this report and urging changes in the spend-down program, issued in June 2009, were endorsed by 48 organizations, and are posted in this article: Advocacy to Improve the Medicaid Spend-down Program in New York State.
Since then, the working group has met with DOH and submitted recommendations to improve information about and procedures for accessing the Medicaid spend-down program by improving the State website, client notices, the State Medicaid Reference Guide (MRG), and the format and content of the Medicaid application.
Today's website changes significantly improve public information about the excess income or spend-down program. In particular, the website explains, for the first time:
· That even an unpaid medical bill can be used to meet the spend-down
· That past unpaid medical bills as well as recent paid medical bills can be used to meet the current and future spend-down.
· That bills paid BY the EPIC and ADAP programs -- in addition to co-payments paid by recipients for prescriptions paid by these programs -- can be used to meet the current and future spend-down
· That bills of certain family members can be used to meet one's spend-down
· That people with disabilities who find it difficult to go into a DSS/Medicaid office have a right to fax in bills as a reasonable accommodation for a disability, and that in some districts, including New York City, anyone can fax in their bills. (For information about faxing bills in New York City, see this page for forms and instructions).
For more information about the Medicaid spend-down program, including a PowerPoint presentation, sample forms and instructions, and an advocacy manual, see the Spend-down webpage on this site.