Low-income disabled and older adults in Connecticut, Delaware, and Nebraska filed an amended complaint Friday that seeks nationwide class-action status to protect against a Trump administration rule regarding Medicaid.
The rule requires states to trim their Medicaid rolls as a condition of receiving additional funds to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Attorney’s for the plaintiffs say it’s a clear violation of Congress’ mandate to ensure continued access to Medicaid-funded health care throughout the ongoing public health emergency.
One new plaintiff, a 65-year-old Nebraska woman, lost access to full Medicaid services in the midst of cancer treatment because she turned 65. She was notified in December of 2021 she was losing access to Medicaid even though the state had recently notified her in June of that year that she remained eligible.
Since her full Medicaid services have been terminated, she cannot afford required Medicare co-insurance payments for her doctor visits or to pay for dental care (not covered at all by Medicare) out-of-pocket, and she has forgone treatment for some conditions and is concerned about accruing even more medical debt for others.
Another new plaintiff, a 73-year-old woman in Delaware, lives entirely on her small Social Security benefits. She has multiple long-term serious health issues including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), COPD, high blood pressure, and an artery occlusion. In March of this year, she was notified by the state that she would no longer qualify for this program because the Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment put her $1 over the limit. It is now difficult to afford the regular infusions to treat her RA that her doctor recommends, which are $478 per treatment. A scan this past spring showed possible cancer in her lungs, and her pulmonologist recommends further screening, but she cannot afford this.
The original lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Connecticut by three Connecticut plaintiffs in early August citing the impact of the rule on at least 6,600 plaintiffs in the state who lost access to Medicaid benefits as a result of the rule. Two of the three plaintiffs received a temporary reprieve when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services temporarily restored benefits pending a court hearing which is scheduled for Sept. 27.
The proposed nationwide class consists of all individuals who were enrolled in Medicaid in any state or the District of Columbia on March 18, 2020 or later and had their Medicaid eligibility terminated or reduced to a lower level of benefits on or after November 6, 2020, or will have their Medicaid eligibility terminated or reduced to a lower level of benefits prior to a redetermination conducted after the end of the Public Health Emergency, for a reason other than moving out of the state or the District (including through death) or voluntarily disenrolling from benefits.
The plaintiffs are represented by Disability Rights Connecticut, Justice in Aging, The National Health Law Program (NHeLP) and the law firm Stinson LLP.