Supreme Court rules on nursing home residents' right to sue Medicaid facilities

The Supreme Court ruled to protect the right of Medicaid nursing home residents to sue when officials do not meet a certain quality of care, RollCall reported June 8.

The 7-2 decision said the family of the late Gorgi Talevski, a former patient with dementia at Valparaiso (Ind.) Care and Rehabilitation, can move forward with its lawsuit against the facility and its owner, Health & Hospital Corp. of Marion County, and facility manager American Senior Communities.

The case was filed by Ivanka Talevski, Mr. Talevski's wife, in 2019. She accused the Indiana health system of violating a 1987 federal law that includes a provision prohibiting nursing homes from using psychotropic drugs for nonmedical reasons. She alleged that her husband was inappropriately subjected to psychotropic drugs and involuntary transferred in violations of the federal law.

The health system asked the Supreme Court to eliminate a Medicaid patient's ability to bring forward such lawsuits, saying patients do not have a standing because they are third parties in what is essentially a contract between the state and federal government. The court denied the request in a ruling that policy watchers call a civil rights victory for Medicaid patients.

"'Laws' means 'laws,' no less today than in the 1870s, and nothing in petitioners’ appeal to Reconstruction-era contract law shows otherwise," Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson wrote in the majority opinion.

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