Marion County Agency Wants SCOTUS to Strip Protections for Millions of Vulnerable Americans
The public health agency of Marion County, Indiana, the Health & Hospital Corp. of Marion County, has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to reject a lawsuit over poor care at one of its nursing homes. The case could prevent beneficiaries of Medicaid and other safety net programs from suing if their rights are violated. The law would have nationwide implications, with over 25% of the U.S. population depending on federal programs that could be impacted by a ruling in the public healthy agency's favor. Past decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court have ruled that beneficiaries of public assistance programs can rely on federal civil rights law to sue when benefits are improperly withheld. However, Health & Hospital argues that the law does not apply to those beneficiaries and that lawsuits involving spending programs should be prohibited unless specifically allowed by Congress when adopting a law. If the U.S. Supreme Court rules in its favor, experts say it would make it easier for state and local governments that partner with the federal government on public assistance programs to deny benefits. Although nursing home residents could still sue under state medical malpractice law, experts note that the process could take years and tens of thousands of dollars before a case makes its way to court. Further, Indiana has one of the nation's lowest caps on total damages. Indiana University McKinney School of Law professor Nicholas Terry said, "It could be a very, very big deal. And in my opinion, quite a harmful deal for people who rely on government services."
Read more on the Indianapolis Star.