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Death and taxes come at same time in Wisconsin



It is said the only certainties in life are death and taxes. In Wisconsin, they sometimes come at the same time. That is because of the so-called death tax, implemented on those who had participated in the federal government’s Medicaid funded Long-term care program after their death. Federal law requires states to attempt to recover the full cost of care from the person’s probate estate. But Wisconsin law goes farther. It is one of just a handful of states that seeks to recoup the Medicaid funding from non-probate assets such as life insurance policies, joint property, home liens, spousal estates and property held in trusts. The Medicaid Estate Recovery Program is the only federal welfare program that attempts repayment of lawfully provided benefits from its recipients. This hits the lowest income the hardest. Seventy-five percent of Medicaid recipients have less than $50,000 in assets at the time of their death. That money would mean more to the families left behind than government coffers. Now some lawmakers in Madison are trying to repeal this law. It is a good time to do so. The state has a record budget surplus and a record rainy day fund. We shouldn’t be trying to collect more from poor Wisconsinites after they die than required by federal law.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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