SCOTUS Takes Medicaid Subrogation Case

The United States Supreme Court has agreed to consider E.M.A. ex rel. Plyler v. Cansler, 674 F.3d 290 (4th Cir.2012), in which the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals said that North Carolina’s one-third cap on the state’s recovery against a Medicaid recipient’s settlement proceeds as provided in its third-party liability statutes, which inherently raised unrebuttable presumption in favor of the state that allocation of one-third of a lump sum settlement was consistent with federal law, violated anti-lien provision in federal Medicaid law.

The Court said that

As the unanimous [Arkansas Department of Health & Human Services v. Ahlborn, 547 U.S. 268, 126 S.Ct. 1752, 164 L.Ed.2d 459 (2006)] … decision makes clear, federal Medicaid law limits a state’s recovery to settlement proceeds that are shown to be properly allocable to past medical expenses. In the event of an unallocated lump-sum settlement exceeding the amount of the state’s Medicaid expenditures, as in this case, the sum certain allocable to medical expenses must be determined by way of a fair and impartial adversarial procedure that affords the Medicaid beneficiary an opportunity to rebut the statutory presumption in favor of the state that allocation of one-third of a lump sum settlement is consistent with the anti-lien provision in federal law.

The petition was granted on September 25, 2012. 

Fortunately, the Tennessee statute is much fairer than the North Carolina statute, and takes into account many factors that impact a plaintiff’s recovery and uses those factors to fairly reduce the Medicaid (Tenncare) subrogation interest.

Thanks to Roger Baron for bringing the granting of the cert petition to my attention.