What started as a nursing home abuse lawsuit against a public health agency in Indiana could become a monumental Supreme Court ruling that impacts the rights of millions of people receiving federal assistance.
Nursing Home Lawsuit Against Indiana Health Agency Taken to Supreme Court
In 2019, Susie Talevski sued the Health and Hospital Corp. of Marion County, the public health agency that owns the nursing facility where her father resided. Her father had dementia, and his condition rapidly declined in the facility’s care. The agency, known as HHS, denied Talevski’s claims and tried to dismiss the case, saying she did not have the right to sue. However, federal courts said the case could move forward.
Then, HHS took the case to an entirely new level, bringing it to the Supreme Court and asking if those collecting federal benefits should have the legal right to sue states when they believe their rights have been violated. Unfortunately, a Supreme Court ruling in favor of HHS could mean that millions of Americans who rely on federal programs — such as Medicaid and programs that provide services for nutrition, housing, and disabilities — could lose the ability to file a civil rights lawsuit, a critical and potentially lifesaving enforcement mechanism.
Dozens of Entities Fight Against Potential Underenforcement of Federal Benefits
The Supreme Court is asked to review nearly 7,000 cases each year and agrees to look at only 1%-2% of them. So, their decision to hear this high-stakes case has raised widespread concern. Over 25 entities filed amicus briefs in favor of Talevski, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, AARP, the American Public Health Association, and Children’s Health Care Providers and Advocates. In addition, state representatives, patients, and advocates have voiced their concerns, urging the HHS to withdraw its Supreme Court petition.
The Supreme Court was scheduled to hear oral arguments on November 8th. This case is ongoing.