In the case of Ammar Al Batha v. Agency For Health Care Administration, Case Number 1D17-828 (Fla. 1st DCA January 14, 2019), Florida’s First DCA held that the estate of a Medicaid recipient has standing to challenge Medicaid’s lien rights after the death of the recipient.
Outline Of Facts
The decedent, Abdel-Kader Al Batha, was injured in a car accident and then later died from the injuries sustained in the accident. Florida Medicaid provided medical treatment while the decedent was still alive.
Florida Medicaid (Agency for Health Care Administration) claimed an automatic lien against the liability claim under section 409.910(6)(c), Fla. Stat. as expected. However, what was unexpected about this case is that after settling the wrongful death action for the car accident, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) ruled that neither the decedent’s personal representative nor the decedent’s spouse could challenge the lien because there were not “recipients.” After that ruling, the plaintiff’s petition to contest the amount of Medicaid’s lien was dismissed and this case was then appealed.
The Appeal In The First DCA
This case was an easy one to decide. In Florida under section 46.021, Fla. Stat., a right that a person has to a cause of action does not die with that person (this is called a survival action because it survives the decedent). When a person passes away before resolution of any such cause of action, a probate can be filed and a “personal representative” is appointed to act on behalf of the decedent’s estate and any survivors. This process is done so that there are not multiple lawsuits from each claimant or survivor, including the estate itself.
Therefore, the First DCA reversed the decision of the ALJ and gave standing to the personal representative to challenge the lien in a court of law. On the other hand, the First DCA did not consider the decedent’s spouse as a “recipient” under the law as she did not receive medical treatment and was not acting as the decedent’s personal representative.
Distinction Without A Difference
The lesson to be learned here is that an estate can and should be able to challenge Medicaid’s lien rights just like any person who is still alive (remember that estates are set up to carry on the deceased’s business until resolved or disposed of).
However, it is not legally necessary to allow the spouse (or any other survivors under Florida’s Wrongful Death Statute) to have standing to challenge Medicaid’s lien rights as those claims do not exist without an estate and the proper appointment of a personal representative. Therefore, the are one and the same.
Get Legal Help For Your Florida Personal Injury Case
Florida personal injury cases have become more complicated than simply getting money from someone who is responsible for causing your injury. Hiring a Florida personal injury attorney not only helps you get the most that you can from the responsible party, but they will also help you retain as much of that as possible from statutory or medical liens that have a hand in your settlement or civil judgment.
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