Justia Public Benefits Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Medical Malpractice
Watson v. King-Vassel
After researching qui tam actions and meeting with an attorney, Dr. Watson placed an ad in a Sheboygan newspaper soliciting minor Medicaid patients who had been prescribed certain psychotropic medications. The ad referred to participation in a possible Medicaid fraud suit and sharing in any recovery. Meyer responded and entered into an agreement with Watson, who never met Meyer’s child, but obtained the child’s records by using an authorization stating that Meyer was requesting the records “[f]or the purpose of providing psychological services and for no other purpose whatsoever….” Watson searched the records for “off‐label” prescriptions written for a purpose that has not been approved by the FDA. Off‐label use is common, but generally not paid for by Medicaid. In the child’s records, Watson identified 49 prescriptions that he alleged constituted false claims to the U.S. government. The district court rejected Watson’s suit under the qui tam provision of the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C.3729(a)(1)(A), reasoning that expert testimony was necessary to prove essential elements of the case and Watson had not named experts. While characterizing Watson’s tactics as “borderline fraudulent,” the Seventh Circuit reversed, citing the district court’s “overly rigid” view of the causation and knowledge elements of the claim. View "Watson v. King-Vassel" on Justia Law
Wos v. E. M. A.
The Medicaid statute’s anti-lien provision, 42 U. S. C. 1396p(a)(1), pre-empts state efforts to take any portion of a tort judgment or settlement not “designated as payments for medical care.” A North Carolina statute requires that up to one-third of damages recovered by a beneficiary for a tortious injury be paid to the state to reimburse it for payments made for medical treatment on account of the injury. E. M. A. suffered serious birth injuries that require her to receive 12 to 18 hours of skilled nursing care per day and that will prevent her from working or living independently. North Carolina’s Medicaid program pays part of the cost of her ongoing care. E. M. A. and her parents filed a medical malpractice suit against the physician who delivered her and the hospital where she was born and settled for $2.8 million, due to insurance policy limits. The settlement did not allocate money among medical and nonmedical claims. The state court placed one-third of the recovery into escrow pending a judicial determination of the amount owed by E. M. A. to the state. While that litigation was pending, the North Carolina Supreme Court held in another case that the irrebuttable statutory one-third presumption was a reasonable method for determining the amount due the state for medical expenses. The federal district court, in E.M.A.’s case, agreed. The Fourth Circuit vacated. The Supreme Court affirmed. The federal anti-lien provision pre-empts North Carolina’s irrebuttable statutory presumption that one-third of a tort recovery is attributable to medical expenses. North Carolina’s irrebuttable, one-size-fits-all statutory presumption is incompatible with the Medicaid Act’s clear mandate View "Wos v. E. M. A." on Justia Law
Tristani, et al. v. Richman, et al.
This appeal involved a putative class action filed by three Pennsylvania Medicaid beneficiaries subject to the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare's (DPW) liens against future settlements or judgments. At issue was whether state agencies responsible for administering the Medicaid program have the authority to assert such liens and, if so, whether Pennsylvania's statutory framework was consistent with the Supreme Court's decision in Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services v. Ahlborn. The court examined the text, structure, history, and purpose of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. 301 et seq., and held that liens limited to medical costs were not prohibited by the anti-lien and anti-recovery provisions of the Act, 42 U.S.C. 1396p(a)-(b). Accordingly, the court upheld Pennsylvania's longstanding practice of imposing such liens. The court also held that Pennsylvania's current statutory framework, which afforded Medicaid recipients a right of appeal from the default allocation, was a permissible default apportionment scheme.