By Bob Katzen
The Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities has given a favorable report to and recommended passage of a bill allowing spouses to serve as paid caregivers for their partner living with a disability covered by MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid program that provides health care for low-income and disabled persons.
Currently, other family members including siblings, children, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nephews and parents are already considered eligible caregivers under MassHealth rules. MassHealth says that spouses are currently not included because they are considered “legally responsible” for the care of their spouse. However, 15 states, covering 42 percent of the national population, do allow this under federal authority.
“I’m pleased that this important bill was approved by the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities,” said Sen. Jo Comerford (D-Northampton), the sponsor of the measure. “Making this simple change to our MassHealth program will not only affect care, it will likely yield budgetary savings. More importantly, it reflects our basic societal commitments to empowering people with disabilities, working for the economic security of families, and valuing the human compassion and love shared by spouses.”
“We are facing a significant crisis in our ability to recruit and retain enough home care workers to meet the needs of older adults and persons with disabilities,” said Mass Home Care’s Executive Director Lisa Gurgone. “This bill will allow MassHealth to compensate spouses willing and able to provide loving care to their partners.”