By Carla K. Johnson
CHICAGO (AP) — Celeste Castillo, a Guatemalan immigrant, was invited to a news conference with Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius early last year to help promote enrollment in the country’s new health insurance marketplaces.
Castillo learned that $800 a month she received from her estranged husband in Panama — his Social Security check — had been counted as part of her income, disqualifying her from Medicaid. That was an error, according to several independent experts interviewed by the AP. In a reassessment of her case, under rules for the Medicaid expansion established in the Affordable Care Act, the money was determined to be a gift from her husband to help pay for his daughter’s college education.
Wayne Turner, staff attorney at the National Health Law Program in Washington, D.C., says the Illinois about-face makes sense to him. The new Medicaid rules allow Illinois officials to consider the husband’s contribution a gift because Castillo, while married, files income taxes separately from her husband. Read the full article here. »