State Medicaid programs can recoup more money from personal injury settlements, Supreme Court rules

The U.S. The Supreme Court ruled that states can seek reimbursements for future medical care from Medicaid beneficiaries who win money in personal injury litigation, Bloomberg reported June 6. 

The court's 7-2 decision involved a Florida woman who has been in a vegetative state since 2008, when she was hit by a truck getting off a school bus, according to the report. The woman's parents received $800,000 as a result of a settlement. The Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration placed a lien on the money, claiming that it was entitled to $300,000 for the woman's past and future medical expenses since it had paid more than $862,000 for her prior medical care. 

The woman's parents argued that the state could only tap into the money for past expenses, according to the report. 

Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote the court's majority opinion, said the Medicaid Act distinguishes "only between medical and nonmedical care, not between past (paid) medical care payments and future (unpaid) medical care payments," according to the report. 

Justice Sonya Sotomayor, who dissented, argued states recovering funds for future medical care reduces Medicaid beneficiaries' incentive to file personal injury lawsuits, which could result in states covering fewer overall expenses, according to the report.

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