The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Medicaid beneficiaries have the right to sue state agencies they accuse of breaking federal law.
The 7-2 decision affirms a previous precedent that the US District Court for the Northern District of Indiana challenged in 2020 when it dismissed a case against a county-owned nursing home accused of violating federal patient protection laws Had done it. The High Court’s decision upheld the 2021 decision of the US Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. Case Now back to the district court.
The plaintiffs are the family of Gyorgy Talewski, a former resident of an Indianapolis-based, nursing home operated by the state-owned Marion County Health and Hospital Corp., which includes the county public health department, Skilled Nursing. facilities and a health system.
According to the family, the nursing home where Talewski lived violated the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 and discharged him by improperly medicating him. The plaintiffs launched a lawsuit against Health and Hospital Corp. in 2019 by invoking Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act enacted in 1871, which gave individuals the right to sue states over questions involving federal laws.
“We believe that two [Nursing Home Reform Act] The provisions at issue here clearly make Section 1983 an enforceable right. And we see no inconsistency between private enforcement under Section 1983 and the statutory scheme designed by Congress to protect those rights,” Justice Kentaji Brown Jackson wrote in the majority opinion.
The district court’s decision upheld that precedent and threatens to make it significantly more difficult for people to seek redress against states they allege are not following federal laws. Jane Perkins, Litigation Director at the National Health Law Program, said the Supreme Court’s decision for Marion County will hurt people enrolled in Medicaid and other federal benefit programs. It would have been a massive, really existential decision,” she said.
Health and Hospital Corporation asked the Supreme Court to limit the scope of Section 1983 to apply only to civil rights or similar protection laws. The court refused.
“We have no doubt [the Health and Hospital Corp.] The Wishes Clause 1983 said something else. But it is better to appeal to Congress,” Jackson wrote.
Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and Jackson formed the majority. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented.
“The HHC brought this case because it has a fiduciary duty to focus its scarce public resources on the healthcare needs of historically underserved populations. The goal of the HHC was to ask the Supreme Court to understand the state of the law governing the availability of federal claims Home operations,” the Health and Hospital Corp. of Marion County said in a statement.
“With the court’s definitive answer today that Medicaid-supported nursing home residents have both administrative and federal court remedies for alleged violations, HHC will continue to work to safely and effectively manage those operations and protect those public Will analyze the impact of the decision on resources,” Health and Hospital Corp said.