Manatt Professionals File Amicus Brief Supporting Enrollees of Medicaid and Other Public Programs

Manatt professionals filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in connection with Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County v. Talevski, a case concerning the ability of beneficiaries in Medicaid and other public programs to sue state actors in court based on alleged violations of their federal rights. Medicaid beneficiaries have long had access to federal court through 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a federal law that generally authorizes private lawsuits against state actors for the “deprivation of any rights” under federal law.

In this case, a Medicaid beneficiary residing in a state-run nursing home filed suit alleging that the nursing home had violated his rights under federal Medicaid law concerning “chemical restraints,” transfer and discharge. The nursing home has argued that Sec. 1983 cannot be used in this way. In addition to asserting that these specific provisions in the nursing home residents’ “bill of rights” are not enforceable under Sec. 1983, the nursing home makes a much broader argument. It has asked the Court to reverse long-standing precedent and declare that Sec. 1983 cannot be used to enforce any provisions of the Medicaid statute, or any other federal rights that are structured as conditions on federal funding rather than stand-alone federal obligations. This case therefore has significant implications for Medicaid beneficiaries as well as enrollees in the many other public programs that are jointly operated by the federal and state governments. 

A Manatt team including Appellate Partner Benjamin Shatz and Manatt Health Associate Julian Polaris filed an amicus brief on behalf of leading children’s health care providers and child health advocacy groups, led by the Children’s Hospital Association. The brief focuses on the federal right of Medicaid-enrolled children to receive all medically necessary screening, diagnostic and treatment services—a right that children and families have often sought to enforce by filing actions under Sec. 1983. The brief urges the Court to “preserve this crucial mechanism for ensuring that low-income children receive the care they need and to which they are entitled under federal law.”

Separately, Manatt Health Partner Cindy Mann, who served as Director of the Center for Medicaid & CHIP Services under President Obama, joined an amicus brief filed on behalf of several former senior officials of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. This brief argues that private enforcement under Sec. 1983 is “essential to HHS’s role in administering Medicaid and other important programs.” If the Court adopts the nursing home’s interpretation, the brief notes, the agency would have sole responsibility for enforcement but with limited resources and enforcement tools that are not well suited to the task.

Oral arguments in this case are scheduled for November 8, 2022.

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