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JFC votes to scale back options to recover Medicaid expenses

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - The state Legislature's finance panel voted 10-6 Wednesday to scale back some -- but not all -- of its expanded options to recover Medicaid costs spent by the elderly.  

The federal government requires states to charge back Medicaid expenses from people's estates after their spouses die. 

Republicans used the state budget process to take that concept further with a series of complex proposals. One would allow the state to recover money that's put into trusts. Another would seize assets accumulated up to 5 years before a person applies for a Medicaid program like FamilyCare.

Republican finance co-chair John Nygren and Senate Republican Glenn Grothman said there's nothing wrong with expecting people to pay for their medical care if they can do so. Grothman said it appalls people when they see others transferring a lot of their assets and then going on Medicaid.

Critics said the proposed changes would leave nothing for most seniors to pass on to their children.

Assembly Democrat Jon Richards tried but failed to block the state from adopting the changes passed in the budget. 

Two Republicans on the finance panel -- senators Mary Lazich and Sheila Harsdorf -- joined all four Democrats in voting against the changes.