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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. Poor Judge Brown probably thought that by slavishly serving the godz of the age her violations of 18th century concepts like due process and the rule of law would be overlooked. Mayhaps she was merely a Judge ahead of her time?

  2. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  3. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

  4. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  5. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

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