Rep. Ultrino has long been advocating for expanding MSP eligibility to provide quality healthcare to more low-income seniors in the Commonwealth
Last Wednesday the Massachusetts House’s Committee on Ways and Means released their version of the FY24 Budget (H.3900 – https://malegislature.gov/Bills/193/H3900), which will be open to debate and amendments from legislators before it is finalized later this month. One of the highlights of the House budget includes an outside section that codifies the elimination of asset limits for Medicare Savings Program (MSP) applications. The provision was included previously in Governor Maura Healey’s FY24 Budget and mirrors legislation drafted and filed by Representative Steve Ultrino. It would require MassHealth to disregard all assets or resources when determining eligibility for MSP.
Reforms to eligibility standards for MSP has been a priority for Representative Ultrino’s office since he was first elected. He and his staff have worked with the Massachusetts Senior Action Council (MSAC) for eight years, and he has filed legislation in previous sessions addressing these concerns. For this session, the Representative has filed H.1248 (https://malegislature.gov/Bills/193/H1248), which similarly seeks to eliminate the asset limit for MSPs and to reduce healthcare expenses for lower-income seniors by expanding the Commonwealth’s eligibility standards to 300% Federal Poverty Level (FPL).
Currently, Massachusetts seniors must have limited assets and limited income to qualify for MSP. Massachusetts seniors who apply for MSP are often turned away because of the value of life insurance policies and other similar assets. The current asset limit is $18,180 per individual and $27,260 per married couple. Countable assets might include everything from cash, stocks, bonds, investments, IRAs, bank accounts (including credit union, savings and checking) to any remaining funds from COVID-19 stimulus checks, the cash surrender value of life insurance policies, and real estate in which one does not reside. This change will ensure that the tens of thousands of seniors who are already income eligible will be able to access this important and valuable benefit, significantly reducing barriers to affordable health care.
“I am excited and proud to see Medicare Savings Program asset limits eliminated as part of the FY24 House Ways and Means Budget,” said Representative Ultrino. “I have discussed the need for more equitable and accessible health care for our seniors’ health care with Chair Michlewitz and Speaker Mariano before. By including this section, House Leadership is showing their dedication to protecting and providing accessible and quality health care for our seniors – and I am extremely thankful for their support and hard work on this bill.”
“We, members of MSAC, are overjoyed to see that the Ways and Means Committee has removed the asset limit for seniors applying for Medicare Savings Plan. Our organization’s MSP committee has been working on affordable health care for seniors through the Medicare Savings Plan for over eight years now,” said MSAC Metro North Membership Coordinator Karen Lynch. “This news comes as a great victory for Massachusetts’ seniors’ community and will certainly help thousands more get the help they need. We want to thank our legislators who have helped so much, and especially, Representative Steve Ultrino who has been at our side all along.”
The FY24 House Ways and Means Budget was released on Wednesday, April 12, and will be debated and amendments will be heard in the coming weeks. If the section is voted to be passed, Massachusetts will join Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Vermont to become the 11th state to eliminate asset limits for MSPs.