With congressional approval of the Budget Act early on the morning of Friday, Feb. 9, 2018, Medicaid enrollees will again receive justice in reimbursement of liens. Medicaid is a state-based program that pays for medical costs for those with limited resources.
This action by Congress reinstates the effect of a unanimous decision by the Supreme Court of the United States that held that Medicaid cannot have a right of first recovery for full reimbursement of covered medical costs before plaintiffs could receive any recovery for lost wages, non-economic damages or any other type of recovery. Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services et. al. v. Ahlborn.
The new budget allows Medicaid to seek reimbursement from Medicaid enrollees only from the portion of a settlement attributable to medical costs.
This new law overturns a provision in the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) of 2013. Since Oct. 1, 2014, the BBA allowed states to seek reimbursement from portions of personal injury recoveries beyond what is directly attributable to past medical expenses. This provision really amounted to an unfair tax on catastrophically disabled individuals who may be left with little to no recovery after payment of the unfair Medicaid lien. The Ahlborn decision had been universally lauded as promoting fair and proportionate settlements for Medicaid recipients.
Such action would not have been possible without the work of the American Association for Justice (AAJ) that worked tirelessly to attain this victory for a fair result. The lawyers at Clifford Law Offices, as members of the AAJ, applaud the work of its team in fighting for the rights of the disabled and those victimized by injustice.