Appeal from the Order of the Department of Public Welfare in case of In Re: Appeal of Evangeline Skinner, dated March 29, 1977.
Frank M. Jackson, for appellants.
Betty F. Perry, Assistant Attorney General, for respondent.
Judges Wilkinson, Jr., DiSalle and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.
[ 41 Pa. Commw. Page 470]
Evangeline Skinner (Skinner) is a 91 year old mentally competent resident of the Regina Community Nursing Center (Center). Until early 1977, she received medical assistance benefits from the Department of Public Welfare (DPW). One criterion for long term medical assistance eligibility is that recipients not own "nonresident" property valued at more than $1500.00. 55 Pa. Code § 177.83(b)(2)(iv).*fn1 In January, 1977, Skinner received notice from the Philadelphia County Board of Assistance (Board) that effective
[ 41 Pa. Commw. Page 471]
February 1, 1977, DPW would discontinue her benefits because she owned nonresident property valued at more than $1500.00. Skinner and the Center appealed that determination to DPW which affirmed the Board's decision.
This appeal from DPW's order raises two issues: whether the nonresident property regulation under which Skinner's benefits were terminated is in conflict with Section 4 of The Support Law (Law), Act of June 24, 1937, P.L. 2045, as amended, 62 P.S. § 1974, and whether there is substantial evidence to support the finding that Skinner's property is worth more than $1500.00.
Section 4 of the Law prohibits the placing of liens against the property of individuals receiving medical assistance. 62 P.S. § 1974(c). Skinner and the Center argue that by withdrawing Skinner's benefits because of her property ownership DPW is doing indirectly what it is prohibited from doing directly by way of Section 4 of the Law. We cannot agree.
"Although participation by the States in a Federal program to provide medical assistance for the 'medically needy' is optional, if the State is to remain eligible for Federal funding it must comply with Federal statutes and regulations." Caddy v. Department of Public Welfare, 14 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 317, 319, 322 A.2d 140, 142 (1974). According to the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1396a(a)(17), a State plan for medical assistance must
[ 41 Pa. Commw. Page 472]
include reasonable standards . . . for determining eligibility for and the extent of medical assistance under the plan which (A) are consistent with the objectives of this subchapter, (B) provide for taking into account only such income and resources as are . . . available to the applicant or recipient and . . . would not be disregarded . . . in determining his eligibility for Page 472} such aid, assistance, or benefits, (C) provide for reasonable evaluation of any such income or resources, and (D) [with certain exceptions herein inapplicable] do not ...