Medicaid Enrollees Cut off Critical Health Benefits During COVID Public Health Emergency Due to Lawless Trump Administration Regulation Seek Nationwide Class Certification

Five Plaintiffs from Three States seek to represent others affected throughout the U.S. and ask for nationwide preliminary injunction to stop ongoing harm

August 26, 2022—Today, plaintiffs in Connecticut, Delaware, and Nebraska filed an amended complaint and a motion for a nationwide preliminary injunction against the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for failing to rescind an illegal rule the Trump Administration issued just before leaving office. The rule requires states to trim their Medicaid rolls as a condition of receiving additional funds to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, in clear violation of Congress’ mandate to ensure access to health care during the ongoing global health emergency.

One new plaintiff, a 65-year-old Nebraska woman lost all access to Medicaid services in the midst of cancer treatment, which she can no longer afford to continue. She was notified in December of 2021 she was losing access to Medicaid even though the state had recently notified her in June of that year (before the Trump rule) through the redetermination process that she remained eligible. She originally qualified for Medicaid due to her low-income as part of Nebraska’s Medicaid expansion and was, for the first time in many years, able to see a dentist and deal with long-term oral health needs, receive hip surgery and therapy that allowed her to walk, and receive treatment for emphysema and high blood pressure. Because she cannot afford co-pays for her doctor’s visits or to pay for dental care out-of-pocket, she is no longer going to appointments.

Another new plaintiff, a 73-year-old woman in Delaware, lives entirely on her small Social Security benefit. She has multiple long-term serious health issues including rheumatoid arthritis, COPD, high blood pressure, and an artery occlusion. Due to her low-income, she qualified for help with cost-sharing for these treatments through the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary Program. In March of this year, she was notified by the state that she would no longer qualify for this program because the Social Security Cost of Living Raise put her $1 over the limit. She can no longer afford the regular infusions to treat her rheumatoid arthritis that her doctor recommends, which are $478 per treatment. A scan this past spring showed possible cancer in her lungs, and her pulmonologist recommends further screening, but she cannot afford it.

The original lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Connecticut in early August on behalf of over 6,000 plaintiffs in the state who lost access to Medicaid benefits as a result of the rule. Almost immediately after the complaint was filed, HHS restored benefits to two of the plaintiffs. A hearing is scheduled for the end of the month regarding the hundreds of thousands of others who have lost access to vital health care during this ongoing pandemic.

The proposed Nationwide class consists of all individuals who were enrolled in Medicaid in any state or the District of Columbia on March 18, 2020 or later and had their Medicaid eligibility terminated or reduced to a lower level of benefits on or after November 6, 2020, or will have their Medicaid eligibility terminated or reduced to a lower level of benefits prior to a redetermination conducted after the end of the Public Health Emergency, for a reason other than moving out of the state or the District (including through death) or voluntarily disenrolling from benefits.

Plaintiffs are represented by Disability Rights Connecticut, Justice in Aging, The National Health Law Program (NHeLP) and the law firm Stinson LLP.

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