The Journal Gazette
Saturday, April 25, 2020 1:00 am

Judge tosses liens Parkview put upon Medicaid patient

JIM CHAPMAN | The Journal Gazette

A local judge recently threw out Parkview Hospital's liens in a patient's case because the hospital didn't submit her bills to Medicaid.

Allen Superior Court Judge Craig J. Bobay ruled last week Parkview was required by law to reduce the value of its liens by the amount of Julie Sabatino's Medicaid benefits. The judge quashed the hospital liens and granted Sabatino's request for summary judgment.

Sabatino was in a personal injury accident July 20, 2016, and Parkview treated her injuries twice that same month. Parkview billed Sabatino $25,728.93 and in August 2016 filed two separate liens related to the treatment.

A lien is one way a hospital can attempt to obtain payment for treatment. Hospitals can place claims on settlements patients receive from personal injury cases.

Allstate Insurance later paid Parkview $10,000, and Parkview claimed Sabatino owed the remaining $15,728.93, Bobay wrote in his ruling.

Sabatino was eligible for Medicaid benefits. She argued that because Parkview didn't submit her hospital bills to Medicaid before recording the liens – reducing the amount she owed – the hospital liens are not valid.

Parkview argued the Indiana hospital lien statute does not require Parkview to submit its charges to Medicaid prior to asserting a lien. Parkview also argued it is prohibited from submitting Sabatino's claim to Medicaid. “Parkview routinely and intentionally does not bill Medicaid when it suspects that the treatment it provides to personal injury suffering patients might be the result of some tortfeasor's conduct,” Bobay said in his ruling.

Parkview instead chooses to file the hospital lien and then look to the patient's personal injury attorney to satisfy the lien before the related personal injury claim could be resolved, Bobay said. “Parkview's counsel conceded that Parkview is the only hospital in the State of Indiana that takes this position,” the judge said.

Any lien claimed by a hospital under the hospital lien statue “must reflect credits for all payments, contractual adjustments, write-offs, and any other benefit in favor of a patient through a patient's Medicaid benefits,” Bobay said.

Parkview also argued Medicaid is not insurance. Bobay said that in the state of Indiana's website, the state defines Medicaid as “a program that offers health insurance to certain low-income families, individuals with disabilities, and elderly individuals with limited financial resources.” 

“The court concludes that the Indiana hospital lien statute is unambiguous,” Bobay wrote “Medicaid is clearly 'contract, health plan, or medical insurance' under the statute.”

Parkview also argued that should Indiana's hospital lien statute require Parkview to first pursue Medicaid, the Indiana statute is preempted by federal law. Bobay concluded federal law does not preempt the Indiana hospital lien statute.

According to online court records, Parkview has not filed documents indicating it will appeal Bobay's decision. Parkview did not respond to requests for comment about the decision.

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