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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. Hello currently just withdrew from laporte county drug court and now I have lost the woman I love which also was in drugcourt and was put in jail without a,lawyer presentfor her own safety according to the judge and they told her she could have a hearing in two weeks and now going on 30days and still in jail no court date and her public defender talks like he,s bout to just sell her up the river.

  2. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  3. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  4. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  5. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

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