Florida Supreme Court Decides When Damages Must be Used to Pay Back Medicaid

In a recent case before the Florida Supreme Court, the court decided what kinds of funds Medicaid was able to put a lien against. It held that only an award of past medical expenses could be used to satisfy the lien, and that Medicaid could not touch the award for future medical expenses. If you are injured in an accident, you should contact a Florida personal injury attorney as soon as possible! They can help you to make sure you receive – and keep – the recovery that you deserve.

Facts of the Case

The facts of this case are relatively straightforward. A man was injured in an all-terrain vehicle accident. He had extensive injuries. He did not have private insurance so Florida’s Medicaid program paid $322,222.27 for medical care to treat his injuries from the accident. Later, he settled with one of the alleged tortfeasors for one million dollars. Medicaid then said he owed them over $320,000 for his medical bills. However, of the million dollar settlement, only $13,881.79 was compensation for past medical expenses. Though the case never explicitly states what the other amounts are for, presumably it is future medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other compensable damages under tort law. Thus, the victim’s representative argued that the Medicaid lien should only be for the $13,881.79 allocated to past medical expenses.

Medicaid Liens and Federal Law

One general principle of law is that federal law trumps state law, especially in a situation like this, because Medicaid is a federal and state partnership. So if federal law says one thing, and state law says another, the courts are usually required to follow the federal law. In this case, the federal Medicaid Act states that Medicaid cannot put a lien on a benefit recipient’s property. In other words, if you are on Medicaid and break your leg, the state cannot later come to you and make you pay them back for the money they spent on the medical expenses for your broken leg.

However, there is an important exception to this rule. The exception is that when the injuries are due to the fault of someone else, and the third party that caused the injuries is forced to pay damages, Medicaid can make the recipient of the damages pay them back for the medical expenses of the injured person.

This case revolves around the question of whether Medicaid can only go after the money that was allocated for past medical expenses, or if they are also able to go after the money paid for future medical expenses. It’s important to note that the Medicaid lien was only for medical costs already incurred, and does not include the medical costs that may occur in the future. The Florida Supreme Court held that under federal law Medicaid could only attach a lien in the amount that the settlement money paid for past medical expenses. Thus, the injured party only has to pay Medicaid the $13,881.79 that he received for past medical expenses.

Contact an Experienced South Florida Personal Injury Attorney Today!

If you have been injured in an accident, you should contact a South Florida personal injury attorney as soon as possible in order to get the damages you deserve. The Florida Personal Injury attorneys at Donaldson & Weston can help you to make sure you get what you are entitled to. Call them at 772-266-555 or 561-299-3999 or use the contact form on this website to schedule your free, confidential consultation today!

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