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Judge postpones Medicaid eligibility hearing a week due to attorney's illness

The Epilepsy Alliance of Florida has been distributing flyers to help people who may have lost their Medicaid during the unwind process that began in April 2023.
WLRN
The Epilepsy Alliance of Florida has been distributing flyers to help people who may have lost their Medicaid during the unwind process that began in April 2023.

A federal judge postponed until next week a hearing in a potential class-action lawsuit alleging Florida has not provided adequate information before dropping people from the Medicaid program.

The hearing had been scheduled for Tuesday, but U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard approved a continuance until Dec. 13 because the state’s lead lawyer, Andy Bardos, was diagnosed this weekend with pneumonia, according to a court document.

The hearing, which will be held in Jacksonville, will include arguments on a request for a preliminary injunction that would require Medicaid officials to reinstate coverage to people dropped from the program in recent months and to end additional terminations until adequate information is provided.

Also, the judge will hear arguments about certifying the case as a class action.

Attorneys for Medicaid beneficiaries filed the lawsuit in August amid a process that the state started this spring to determine whether more than 5 million people enrolled in Medicaid remained eligible for benefits.

The state’s lawyers have disputed that the Medicaid program violated beneficiaries’ rights and said the judge should deny the plaintiffs’ requests for an injunction and certification as a class action.

The process was a result of the end of the federal government’s public health emergency that was declared in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic began. Medicaid is jointly funded by the federal and state governments. As part of the emergency, Washington agreed to pick up more of the tab for the program, but states had to agree that they wouldn’t drop people from the Medicaid rolls during the emergency.

Florida’s program grew from about 3.8 million beneficiaries in January 2020 to nearly 5.8 million in April of this year, at least in part because people who might not otherwise be eligible for coverage could not be dropped. With the end of the emergency, states began what is known as the “redetermination” process.

Copyright 2023 Health News Florida.

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