Do you have Ohio Medicaid? The state will get its money
Daily Record, The (Wooster, OH)
Bob Weldon is on a mission to single-handedly educate consumers about the dangers of a particular Medicaid policy that resulted in the state trying to take thousands of dollars from his brother's estate.
He wants to do that by changing state law.
At issue is Medicaid coverage pitched by state government representatives as free for his brother, who needed health insurance while in a losing fight with cancer.
"The more I read and dig in on this, the more disturbed I get," said Weldon, who owns an insurance agency, Tom Jones Insurance, in Millersport. "I believe there are thousands of people in the state of Ohio who have no idea that the benefits they signed up for are subject to estate recovery."
Weldon's brother, Philip, was diagnosed with cancer in July 2016.
Three years later, as the disease progressed, he had to quit work. He went on Social Security disability, but needed health care coverage.
Bob Weldon, 63, went on the federal health insurance exchange and found a policy for his brother in July 2019. When the policy was renewed in January 2020, the policy costs $213 a month.
At the same time the policy was being renewed, the Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging reached out to Philip about a Medicaid program called Specialized Recovery Services that assists adults with severe and persistent mental illness, certain diagnosed chronic conditions and those actively waiting on specific transplant lists.
The pitch: The program was free. Beyond offering health care coverage, the program provided extra services such as house cleaning.
Bob Weldon said he was repeatedly assured there was no cost, even as he continued to doubt that was possible.
"Yes Mr. Weldon, not a dime," he was told.
On Feb. 20, 2020, Fairfield County Job and Family Services told Weldon his brother qualified for the program. The coverage was backdated to Feb. 1.
Weldon canceled his brother's policy on the health care exchange and signed up for the new coverage for his brother, who by this point was in the final stages of his illness. He passed away on March 4, 2020, at the age of 63.
Following his death, the Ohio Attorney General's office placed a claim against the brother's estate for $3,570, basically for two months of managed care premiums for the time that policy was in effect. As it turned out, the policy that was sold to his brother as being free actually cost $1,785 a month.
Weldon's brother would have been better off to stick with the policy he had bought on the federal exchange for $213 a month.
Since his brother's death, Weldon has been on a campaign to understand why, in the process of signing up for the policy, he was never told the state could seek to recover those costs from his brother's estate.
"I am absolutely stunned that somebody can get signed up on this and not require a signature of understanding," he said. "I just don't understand that."
Weldon has complained to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, the Fairfield County Department of Job and Family Services, the Ohio Department of Aging, local and state politicians, the attorney general's office and others. When he called the state's Medicaid hotline, Weldon complained that that the material he has looked at is deceptive.
Ultimately, the estate settled the bill from the Ohio Attorney General's office for $426, the price for two months' premiums that Weldon's brother would have paid under the old policy he had on the federal health care exchange.
Weldon has been persistent in his efforts to see the state do something to better inform consumers of the possibility that the state could take money from an estate of someone who was covered under the Specialized Recovery Services program.
He has called on legislators to pass a bill requiring that consumers sign a simple form before receiving benefits that acknowledges that money spent under the program is subject to being recovered from their estate.