Articles Posted in Public Benefits

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Dawn McGee, who was receiving public assistance in the form of SNAP benefits, and Helge Naber were an unmarried couple living together with their five collective children. When the Department of Health and Human Services learned that Naber was living with McGee it sent McGee a notice requesting income information for Naber. McGee did not send the requested information, and the Department terminated McGee’s benefits. The Board of Public Assistance and district court upheld the Department’s determination. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Department was required to terminate McGee’s SNAP benefits when the household, including Naber, refused to provide the income information that the Department requested. View "McGee v. State Department of Public Health & Human Services" on Justia Law

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Lisa Bailey, a fifty-one-year old who was considered morbidly obese, requested, through her physician, Medicaid authorization for gastric bypass surgery. The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (Department) denied the request because gastric bypass surgery is a non-covered service under Department administrative rules. A hearing officer upheld the Department’s determination, and the Board of Public Assistance adopted the decision of the hearing officer. The district court affirmed. Bailey appealed, asking that the Department be required to conduct a determination of medical necessity for the procedure. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Department’s rule excluding coverage for all invasive procedures undertaken for the purpose of weight reduction, including gastric bypass surgery, is not unreasonable or contrary to federal law. View "Bailey v. Mont. Dep’t of Pub. Health & Human Servs." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-Appellant John Dilley appealed the grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendant-Appellee City of Missoula. The district court concluded the City acted within its legal authority when it purchased the Missoula Civic Stadium with tax increment financing (TIF) funds designated for urban renewal. The stadium was originally planned and developed by Play Ball Missoula, Inc. (Play Ball), a volunteer, non-profit corporation organized for the purpose of bringing a minor league baseball team to Missoula. In 2000, Play Ball and the City entered a development agreement that permitted Play Ball to finance and construct a stadium on blighted City property and later convey the facility to the City. Plaintiff, acting pro se, filed suit prior to the City's acquisition of the stadium, alleging the planned purchase using TIF funds was an "illegal payoff of private enterprise debt." On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the district court erroneously failed to specify which provision under Title 7, Chapter 15, Part 42 of the Montana Code that permitted the "payoff." He also argued that the City could not make such an expenditure of TIF funds simply because the practice was not prohibited by statute. Finding that the City's use of TIF money to acquire the stadium was a proper exercise of its urban renewal posers, the Supreme Court affirmed the grant of summary judgment in the City's favor. View "Dilley v. City of Missoula" on Justia Law

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The State Department of Labor and Industry appealed a district court's order that reversed the Department's decision regarding Petitioner Sheila Callahan & Friends, Inc. (SC&F). SC&F, a radio broadcasting company entered into a one-year contract with Joni Mielke. During the term of employment, SC&F evaluated Mielke as being an excellent radio personality and announcer but as underperforming other responsibilities because she either did not want to do them or preferred announcing-related duties. Mielke elected not to renew her contract with SC&F, and on an exit interview form, Mielke indicated her reason for leaving was that she "quit." After Mielke left her employment with SC&F, she was hired by another radio station. After a brief employment with this subsequent employer, she was laid off and filed for unemployment benefits in October 2009. The Department of Labor sent a Notice of Chargeability Determination to SC&F assessing a pro rata share of the costs of Mielke’s unemployment insurance benefits to SC&F’s experience rating account. The Department administratively determined that Mielke was employed for SC&F on a contract basis during her base period of employment and that SC&F’s account was chargeable for a portion of benefits drawn by Mielke. SC&F requested a redetermination, arguing that Mielke had voluntarily left her employment. The Department issued a Redetermination affirming the initial Determination. An administrative hearing was then conducted by telephone; the hearing officer determined that Mielke neither voluntarily quit nor was discharged for misconduct and affirmed the decision to charge SC&F’s account. On appeal, the Department argued the District Court improperly failed to defer to the Board’s findings of facts. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that the error of the Board was primarily premised upon application of legal standards, in the nature of a conclusion of law. Given the inapplicability of the imputation rules to the situation here, the District Court properly concluded that the evidence did not support the Board’s determination that Mielke’s work separation was involuntary. View "Sheila Callahan & Friends, Inc. v. Montana" on Justia Law

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In 2003, Joshua Micone applied for Medicaid benefits for himself and his family. In his applications, Joshua did not report his wife Jennifer's interest in a family limited partnership. The Department of Public Health and Human Services approved Joshua's application, and the Micone family received Medicaid benefits from 2003 to 2006. Subsequently, the Department notified Joshua that his household was ineligible for benefits paid over the past three years because of Jennifer's interest in the partnership and demanded repayment. Joshua contested the demand of benefits paid. The State Board of Public Assistance upheld a hearing officer's findings that Jennifer's interest in the partnership was a countable and available resource. The district court affirmed. On appeal, the Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court correctly concluded that that the hearing officer did not violate Mont. Code Ann. 2-4-623 when he did not issue a decision within ninety days after the case was deemed submitted; and (2) the district court correctly determined that substantial credible evidence supported the Department's finding that Jennifer's interest in the partnership was an available resource.

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Donovan Donald (Don) was incapacitated in an accident and received several treatment in Kalispell Regional Medical Center (KRMC). Later, a dispute arose between Don's estate and KRMC over KRMC's acceptance or rejection of Medicaid's payments for Don's care. KRMC filed liens against the Estate. The Estate, in turn, sued KRMC and MASH, a company that had provided Medicaid application forms to the Estate, under several theories of liability. The district court granted Defendants' motions for summary judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding the district court (1) did not err in granting summary judgment to KRMC and MASH; (2) correctly interpreted and applied the Montana Medicaid Act; (3) correctly awarded KRMC prejudgment interest but incorrectly included interest KRMC received from its interest-bearing account; and (4) did not abuse its discretion by awarding KRMC attorney fees and costs. Remanded with instructions to offset the prejudgment interest award by the amount of interest KRMC received from the interest-bearing account.

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Plaintiff, on behalf of a class of similarly situated plaintiffs who received Medicaid assistance and were subject to a Medicaid lien pursuant to 53-2-612, MCA, sued defendant alleging that defendant had collected a greater amount than it was entitled from plaintiffs' recoveries from other sources. The parties raised several issues on appeal. The court held that Ark. Dept. of Health & Human Servs. v. Ahlborn applied retroactively to all class members' claims and that defendant must raise affirmative defenses with respect to individual class members to avoid Ahlborn's effect. The court held that the applicable statute of limitations to be 27-2-231, MCA, which provided for a five-year limitations period. The court declined to disturb the district court's order requiring defendant to compile data on individual class members' claims. The court reversed the district court's determination as to interest assessed against defendant, and concluded that no interest could be assessed until two years after any judgment had been entered, under 2-9-317, MCA. The court concluded that the term "third party" in the Medicaid reimbursement statutes included all other sources of medical assistance available to Medicaid recipients, including private health or automobile insurance obtained by the Medicaid recipient. The court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the class on its proffered distinction between "first party" and "third party" sources. The court affirmed the district court's conclusion that plaintiffs' "made whole" claim was immaterial in light of Ahlborn.