The Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) which was just approved by Congress and signed into law contains language damaging to plaintiffs covered by Medicaid. As many of our present and former clients are aware, Medicaid, via federal legislation, has the ability to assert a lien for repayment of benefits received by its recipients who go on to file a civil claim to obtain a recovery for their injuries.
Initially, Medicaid liens were interpreted by our courts to encompass any and all benefits paid by Medicaid to its recipient and further that those claims could reach the entirety of the recipient’s recovery.
In 2006 the United States Supreme Court decided the matter of U.S. v. Ahlborn. In Ahlborn, the Court ruled that only the portion of the settlement that represented payment of medical expenses could be claimed by the Medicaid agency. The BBA now allows a State to claim ALL of a settlement or judgement. The BBA also counters a 2013 Supreme Court decision in Wos v. E.M.A. that rejected North Carolina’s assertion of a lien on Medicaid’s claimants’ tort recoveries.
We expect the result of the new law to be that plaintiffs who are Medicaid recipients will recover less and in many cases will be unable to pursue claims at all because any recovery would have to be reimbursed to Medicaid. This provision was added by the BBA because it was deemed to raise revenue by Congressional Budget Office economists, despite the fact that the provision will have the opposite effect. Reversing this unfair, unnecessary and ill-advised policy is a priority.