Center for Constitutional Litigation: Possible Extension of Ahlborn Ruling to Medicare
Kentucky accident attorneys take note: Ahlborn may extend to Medicare
In a significant victory for injured plaintiffs, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously on May 1st that state Medicaid agencies’ claims for reimbursement out of tort settlements are limited to that portion of any settlement attributable to past medical expenses. The ruling means that the agencies may not lay claim to any portion of a plaintiff’s recovery for lost wages, pain and suffering, permanent disability or other future damages. Arkansas Dept. of Health and Human Services v. Ahlborn, 126 S.Ct. 1752 (2006).
Medicaid is not the only federal health care program that has asserted a right to priority repayment out of tort settlements; ATLA members report similar claims by Medicare.
We believe that Ahlborn’s logic should control repayment claims by other federal programs, such as those asserted under the Medical Care Recovery Act (“MCRA”) and the Medicare Secondary Payer Act (“MSPA”), despite differences in the language of each statute, because the basic structure of the repayment obligation is the same under all three federal statutes and because all three acts share a common congressional purpose.
In our view, plaintiffs’ counsel should begin to treat the decision in Ahlborn as controlling in cases involving Medicare and other federally-funded health care programs and should be on the lookout for an appropriate case to seek to extend the holding in Ahlborn.
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