A two-year delay on a provision included in the recently enacted Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 (BBA) that was harmful to Medicaid plaintiffs has been obtained. The harmful BBA provision is contained in Section 202 and would overturn a unanimously-decided 2006 Supreme Court case, Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services v. Ahlborn, which held that a state can only recoup Medicaid costs from the portion of a liability settlement or judgment set aside for medical expenses. Instead, this harmful provision would authorize states to recover money from other parts of the settlement or judgment, such as those set aside to compensate for lost wages, future health costs, pain, and suffering. The new date of implementation for the BBA provision is now October 2016, so there is still time for those who would be harmed to let their legislators know that this provision needs to be deleted.
This two-year extension of protection for Medicaid clients was secured by the passage of a bill that is known as the “doc fix” or SGR (Sustainable Growth Rate), which is a bill to extend the pay rate for doctors who treat Medicare patients. The current rate was set to expire—and to be reduced— on March 31, 2014.
A summary of health provisions contained in the BBA can be found here.