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Lawsuits & Litigation

Florida Families File Lawsuit Over Medicaid “Unwinding,” Terminations

— August 22, 2023

Attorneys say that Florida may have violated federal law by providing inadequate notice of impending Medicaid terminations.

Three Florida residents have filed a federal lawsuit alleging that state agencies have failed to provide low-income families adequate notice that their coronavirus-related Medicaid coverage is coming to an end.

According to FOX News, the proposed class action lawsuit was filed on Tuesday in a Jacksonville federal court by the Florida Health Justice Project and the National Health Law Program.

Both organizations are representing three Floridians who fear that the state’s Medicaid “unwinding” could cost them any and all access to affordable health insurance.

The defendants named in the lawsuit include the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration and the Florida Department of Children and families.

FOX News notes that more than 182,000 Floridians have been issued benefits termination notices since April, when a coronavirus-related policy prohibiting states from removing people from Medicaid came to an end.

Hundreds of thousands more people are expected to lose coverage in the coming months.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs say that many lower-income people receiving termination notices do not know whether the state’s decision to end their coverage is justified; few are provided with information on how to appeal.

A gavel. Image via Wikimedia Commons via Flickr/user: Brian Turner. (CCA-BY-2.0).

“As a result, Plaintiffs and class members are losing Medicaid coverage without meaningful and adequate notice, leaving them unable to understand the agency’s decision, properly decide whether and how to contest their loss of Medicaid coverage, or plan for a smooth transition of coverage that minimizes disruptions in necessary care,” the lawsuit states. “Without Medicaid coverage, Plaintiffs are unable to obtain care they need, including prescription drugs, children’s vaccinations, and post-partum care.”

Sarah Grusin, an attorney with the National Health Law Program, told FOX News that Florida health officials have known since at least 2018 that their termination notices are confusing, yet continued to use them.

“Fundamental due process requires the State to ensure that people receive adequate, meaningful notice of the State’s decision and the opportunity to challenge it before coverage is terminated,” Grusin said. “This is not happening.”

Amanda Avery, another attorney for the National Health Law Program, said that, while the scope of terminations in Florida is especially worrying, other states are allegedly violating Medicaid recipients’ rights in very similar ways.

“For months, advocates have been warning state and federal agencies that the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency and the Medicaid unwinding process would leave to massive coverage losses for people who are still eligible for Medicaid,” Avery said in a statement reprinted, in part, by FOX News. “We are seeing that play out in real time.”

Florida officials have since called the complaint “baseless,” saying that Florida’s health agencies have complied with all applicable state and federal laws.

The federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicaid Services, for instance, “approved the Department’s redetermination plan based on their regulations.”

“There are multiple steps in the eligibility determination process and the final letter is just one of the multiple communications from the Department,” said Department of Children and Families Chief of Staff Mallory McManus said, adding that the state “continues to lead on Medicaid determinations and being fiscally responsible.”


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