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Lawsuits & Litigation

Florida Tries to Dismantle Medicaid Class Action

— September 14, 2022

The class action lawsuit claims that Florida refuses to cover incontinence supplies for many disabled residents over the age of 21.

Florida is hoping to dismantle a prospective class action that lawsuit that accuses the state Medicaid program of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by denying coverage for incontinence supplies.

According to CBS News, attorneys for the Sunshine State filed documents last week in federal court disputing that two plaintiffs named in the lawsuit had legal standing to pursue the case.

Florida attorneys also alleged that the complaint should not be considered a class action.

CBS News reports that the lawsuit, filed in July, said that the Medicaid program stopped providing incontinence supplies to plaintiffs Blanca Meza and Destiny Belanger after they turned 21, even though both women are incapable of physically caring for themselves.

However, Florida claims that the women lack standing to file a lawsuit because they have “not been exposed to an unreasonable and serious risk of unnecessary institutionalization.”

Additionally, the state says that it determines coverages and eligibility in line with regulations provided by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The Florida state capitol. Image via Wikimedia Commons/user:Michael Rivera. (CCA-BY-3.00).

“[Florida] has a comprehensive, effectively working plan for providing qualified individuals with necessary services to prevent unnecessary institutionalization,” Florida attorneys wrote. “Alternatively, any relief the court deems necessary should be limited to narrowly address the harm before it and not unnecessarily affect defendant’s otherwise comprehensive, effectively working plan for the delivery of Medicaid services that has been reviewed and approved by CMS.”

Nevertheless, the lawsuit states that, while Florida provides incontinence supplies—such as briefs, diapers, and underpads—to Medicaid beneficiaries under the age of 21, as well as certain adults.

However, these coverages have not been extended to Meza and Belanger.

The lawsuit notes that Meza, for example, should still be entitled to benefits, as she is “diagnosed with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, muscle spasticity, neuromuscular scoliosis and partial epilepsy.”

“Plaintiffs are medically fragile adults each with bladder and bowel incontinence,” said the lawsuit. “As low-income Florida residents with significant disabilities, they receive their health services through Florida’s Medicaid program. Plaintiffs’ physicians have prescribed certain incontinence supplies, including briefs and underpads, as medically necessary to treat plaintiffs’ incontinence, keep their skin dry and clean, prevent skin breakdowns and infections and maintain their ability to live in the community.”

The lawsuit, filed by attorneys for the Florida Health Justice Project and Disability Rights Florida, said that, while Meza and Belanger could qualify for continuing coverage under a state waiver program, such programs have long waiting lists.


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