Advocacy alert: Call your legislators by March 31 to extend spousal impoverishment protection

Nursing home care can be very expensive. Some nursing homes may cost up to $8,000 a month! For older adults who are living on a fixed income, this cost can quickly start eating into savings. Many spouses who are still living in the community may experience “spousal impoverishment” due to the strain of paying for care for their spouse and having little or no income or other resources. In 1988, Congress put protections into place through Medicaid home and community based services (HCBS) for community-dwelling spouses of nursing home residents. These laws protected a certain amount of the couple’s shared resources for the community-dwelling spouse to ensure that their basic needs are met.

On March 31, 2019, Medicaid HCBS spousal impoverishment protections will expire unless Congress acts to extend them. These protections are very important in helping many older adults have a modest income and meet their basic needs. The Justice in Aging organization is urging people to call their legislators to tell them how important these protections are and to urge them to extend these protections.

Justice in Aging includes a sample message that you could use when contacting your representatives:

“I am asking the Senator to support legislation to extend the HCBS spousal impoverishment protections before they expire in two weeks on March 31st. Allowing the protections to expire would harm older adults and persons with disabilities who could lose their Medicaid eligibility or be forced to enter a nursing home against their wishes. It would also cause immediate disruption and confusion, and create administrative burden for states who would have to take time to adjust financial eligibility criteria, redetermine eligibility for married HCBS enrollees, and issue notices to affected enrollees. Congress should pass legislation extending the HCBS spousal impoverishment protections before March 31st. “


To find out who your legislators are, visit:

For more information about Justice in Aging’s advocacy plan, visit:

For more information about the Medicaid HCBS spousal impoverishment protections, visit: