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Unsuccessful Medicaid applicants aren't entitled to in-person hearing

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People whose applications have been denied for Medicaid disability benefits do not have a constitutional right to an in-person administrative hearing, the Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled.

Paul Terrell, on behalf of himself and a class of those similarly situated, sued Anne Murphy as secretary of Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, and Patricia Casanova, as director of the Office of Medicaid Policy and Planning of the FSSA, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief.

The class challenges the use of telephonic hearings regarding Medicaid disability appeals. As of Oct. 1, 2009, the FSSA conducts hybrid hearings in which the unsuccessful applicant and ALJ are in the same room but the state’s representative appears telephonically. In the past, the FSSA may have scheduled in-person or telephonic hearings, in which all participants call into a virtual hearing room.

The trial court granted the class’ motion for summary judgment and denied the state’s motion for summary judgment.

This was an error, the Court of Appeals concluded in Anne W. Murphy, et al. v. Paul Terrell, et al., No. 49A04-1003-PL-198, holding that unsuccessful applicants who appeal the denial of their eligibility to receive Medicaid benefits don’t have a constitutional right to an in-person administrative hearing. The appellate court used Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319 (1975), Casey v. O’Bannon, 536 F. Supp. 350 (E.D. Pa. 1982), and State ex rel Human Servs. Dept. v. Gomez, 657 P.2d 117 (N.M. 1982), to find that a telephonic hearing affords the rejected applicants with the opportunity to be heard in a meaningful manner. The judges used the balancing test set forth in Mathews to reach this conclusion.

Although the rejected applicants have a substantial private interest in the decisions regarding the status of their application for disability benefits, the other two factors weigh in favor of the state. The evidence shows the use of telephonic hearings lets the state better manage public funds and utilize decreasing resources efficiently. There is also no risk a person would suffer an erroneous deprivation of his or her private interest through the procedures used, and the probable value, if any, of additional or substitute procedural safeguards. The class failed to provide any empirical evidence to approximate the risk of deprivation or to what extent the individuals would erroneously be deprived by the hearings held over the phone, wrote Judge Cale Bradford.

The appellate court remanded for entry of summary judgment in favor of the state.

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  1. Please I need help with my class action lawsuits, im currently in pro-se and im having hard time findiNG A LAWYER TO ASSIST ME

  2. Access to the court (judiciary branch of government) is the REAL problem, NOT necessarily lack of access to an attorney. Unfortunately, I've lived in a legal and financial hell for the past six years due to a divorce (where I was, supposedly, represented by an attorney) in which I was defrauded of settlement and the other party (and helpers) enriched through the fraud. When I attempted to introduce evidence and testify (pro se) in a foreclosure/eviction, I was silenced (apparently on procedural grounds, as research I've done since indicates). I was thrown out of a residence which was to be sold, by a judge who refused to allow me to speak in (the supposedly "informal") small claims court where the eviction proceeding (by ex-brother-in-law) was held. Six years and I can't even get back on solid or stable ground ... having bank account seized twice, unlawfully ... and now, for the past year, being dragged into court - again, contrary to law and appellate decisions - by former attorney, who is trying to force payment from exempt funds. Friday will mark fifth appearance. Hopefully, I'll be allowed to speak. The situation I find myself in shouldn't even be possible, much less dragging out with no end in sight, for years. I've done nothing wrong, but am watching a lot of wrong being accomplished under court jurisdiction; only because I was married to someone who wanted and was granted a divorce (but was not willing to assume the responsibilities that come with granting the divorce). In fact, the recalcitrant party was enriched by well over $100k, although it was necessarily split with other actors. Pro bono help? It's a nice dream ... but that's all it is, for too many. Meanwhile, injustice marches on.

  3. Both sites mentioned in the article appear to be nonfunctional to date (March 28, 2017). http://indianalegalanswers.org/ returns a message stating the "server is taking too long to respond" and http://www.abafreelegalasnswers.org/ "can't find the server". Although this does not surprise me, it is disheartening to know that access to the judicial branch of government remains out of reach for too many citizens (for procedural rather than meritorious reasons) of Indiana. Any updates regarding this story?

  4. I've been denied I appeal court date took a year my court date was Nov 9,2016 and have not received a answer yet

  5. Warsaw indiana dcs lying on our case. We already proved that in our first and most recent court appearance i need people to contact me who have evidence of dcs malpractice please email or facebook nathaniel hollett thank you

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