This post is an update on an earlier post concerning changes to the law of Medicaid subrogation in North Carolina. The earlier post can be seen here: Medicaid: "Ahlborn hearings" are back thanks to the 2018 federal budget which makes Medicaid provide lien reduction hearings again. But watch the deadlines!
Here is the short version of the history: In 2013 NC amended the law on Medicaid subrogation to allow for a reduction hearing to determine Medicaid's final lien in a third party injury case. That law stood until October 1 of 2017 when a small change to the Federal law had the effect of making the NC statute inapplicable. In anticipation of the Federal change, NC lawmakers had inserted a law in the July 2017 state budget that said in essence, "if the federal changes happen on October 1, then our law changes to this...". The new state law eliminated the reduction hearings and also eliminated Medicaid sharing prorata with valid medical lien holders.
Then on February 9, 2018, the Federal Budget was passed and it retroactively repealed the changes that went into effect on October 1 in the federal law. In my opinion, this had the effect of essentially time traveling back to the last day of September, 2017 and making the October 1 federal changes never happen. Which means, of course, that the NC changes conditioned on the Federal changes, never happened either.
The end result is that as of February 8, 2018, the Medicaid lien law in NC was back to the statute that existed since 2013. Or at least that's what i thought.
That leads me to now. I filed a declaratory judgment suit and motion to determine Medicaid lien in March of 2018 to request a Medicaid lien reduction under the 2013 NC law. In the Compliant I set out all of the changes described above and that the law of NC had "reverted" to the pre-October 1, 2018 law.
The State of North Carolina filed an Answer to the complaint an unequivocally Admitted all of the following allegations in the Complaint.
Long story short, my legal theory set out above is correct.
Below are the legal allegations in the Complaint.
Jurisdiction, Venue, and Governing Law
This Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this action pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. §7A-240 and §7A-243. This Court has personal jurisdiction in this matter pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. §1-75.4.
Venue is properly laid in this Court pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. §1-80 and §1-82.
That NCGS §108A-57 governs Medicaid lien recovery in North Carolina.
That NCGS §108A-57 was written, in part, to comply with the requirements set out in Wos v. E.M.A., __ U.S. __, 133 S. Ct. 1391, 1402 (2013) which affirmed that Arkansas Dept. of Health and Human Servs. v. Ahlborn, 547 U.S. 268, 284, 126 S. Ct. 1752 (2006) applied in North Carolina. Ahlborn established that the Department of Health and Human Services is prohibited from recovering “a portion of a Medicaid beneficiary’s tort judgment or settlement not designated as payments for medical care” because such recovery is barred by the federal Medicaid statute’s anti-lien provision, 42 U.S.C. § 1396p(a)(1).
That NCGS §108A-57(a2) provides a mechanism for a determination of the portion of the beneficiary's gross recovery that represents compensation for the Medicaid claim and requires that an application for determining the lien under this subsection shall be filed with the court “no later than 30 days after the date that the settlement agreement is executed by all parties and, if required, approved by the court.”
That on October 1, 2017, NCGS §108A-57, was amended pursuant to NC Senate Bill 257. The amendment, which was conditioned upon changes to federal law going into effect the same day, said:
“ SECTION 11H.23. If Section 202(b) of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, P.L. 113-67, takes effect on October 1, 2017, as provided in Section 202(c) of that act, as amended by Section 211 of the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014, P.L. 113-93, and Section 220 of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, P.L. 114-10, then G.S. 108A-57 reads as rewritten...”
On October 1, 2017, the changes to the federal law went into effect which triggered the changes to North Carolina law, eliminating procedure to request a court for the determination of a medicaid lien pursuant to NCGS §108A-57(a2).
On February 9, the United States Congress passed, and the President signed, H.R.1892 - Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, which contained “SEC. 53102. THIRD PARTY LIABILITY IN MEDICAID AND CHIP”.
SEC. 53102 of H.R.1892, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, repealed subsection (b) of section 202 of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013. The repeal stated that it “includ[es]any amendments made by such subsection” and the repeal “shall be applied and administered as if such amendments had never been enacted.”
The effect of all of these statutory changes on February 9, 2018 was that because the federal changes “had never been enacted” the changes to NCGS §108A-57 set out in NC Senate Bill 257 never took effect and the provisions of NCGS §108A-57(a2) allowing for judicial determination of Medicaid's lien came back into existence on February 9, 2018.
That any matter settled between October 1, 2017 and February 9, 2018, could not apply for a lien determination during that time period and that NC DHHS properly refused to grant requests for reductions during that time frame.
That Plaintiff's Workers' Compensation case was approved for settlement in an Order of the Industrial Commission in IC. File No. Y26729 filed on January 24, 2018.
That upon the reinstatement of NCGS §108A-57(a2) on February 9, 2018, cases settled during the October 1, 2017 through February 9, 2018 period should have 30 days to file for hearings pursuant to NCGS §108A-57(a2) and that the first day they could request such hearing was February 9, 2018.
That Plaintiff in this matter has filed for this hearing pursuant to NCGS §108A-57(a2) within 30 days of February 9, 2018 and has satisfied the filing requirements of NCGS §108A-57(a2).
Again, all those allegations were ADMITTED by the State.
This should settle the question of what law applies now. I will also point out that the website for the General Assembly is still displaying the "new" (but incorrect) NCGS 108A-57. You can view the "old" (but now the current) NCGS 108A-57 in the body of the budget bill, Senate Bill 257 (2017) beginning at the very bottom of page 222 and continuing on to 223. All of the "repealed" portions in that Bill are now law again. Here is the link- go to page 222 or do a search for "subrogation" within the PDF. www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2017/Bills/Senate/PDF/S257v9.pdf
My firm is now taking in limited numbers of Medicaid reduction cases for other lawyers. Make sure you remember that you only have 30 days to file and serve your Motion to Reduce Medicaid lien beginning on the date that the client settles the case (signs the Release of Claims or a court approves a settlement).
Feel free to email me or call me if you have matter you think might qualify for a reduction.