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SNEEDE v. KIZER

January 5, 1990

CURTIS SNEEDE, by his guardian ad litem Georgia Thompson; JUSTIN THOMPSON, by his guardian ad litem Georgia Thompson; GEORGIA THOMPSON, on her own behalf and as representative of her sons Curtis Sneede and Justin Thompson, Plaintiffs,
v.
KENNETH KIZER, Director, California Department of Health Services; CALIFORNIA DEP'T OF HEALTH SERVICES; JESSE R. HUFF, Director, California Department of Finance; CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE; LOUIS W. SULLIVAN, M.D., Secretary, United States Department of Health and Human Services; UNITED STATES DEP'T OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, Defendants. KENNETH KIZER, et al., Defendants and Third Party Plaintiffs, v. LOUIS W. SULLIVAN, M.D., Secretary, United States Department of Health and Human Services, Third Party Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: HENDERSON

 This matter came before the Court on January 4, 1990, on plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment against the State defendants. There being no dispute of material facts, and plaintiffs having demonstrated entitlement to relief as a matter of law, the motion is granted for the reasons set forth below. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56; Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265 (1986); California Architectural Building Products, Inc. v. Franciscan Ceramics, Inc., 818 F.2d 1466, 1468 (9th Cir. 1987), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 1006, 98 L. Ed. 2d 650, 108 S. Ct. 698 (1988).

 I

 Curtis Sneede, on behalf of all similarly situated California residents, *fn1" challenges California's method for determining eligibility for Medi-Cal benefits. He contends that California, pursuant to section 50373 of the California Code of Regulations (22 C.C.R. § 50373), improperly attributes income and resources to Medi-Cal applicants and recipients from sources it is not allowed to under federal law. As a result, indigent persons are denied, in part or whole, medical assistance to which they would otherwise be entitled.

 At this juncture, plaintiffs seek a partial summary judgment against the State defendants that 22 C.C.R. § 50373 is invalid. They also seek state-wide injunctive relief, but suggest deferring issues concerning implementation procedures and retroactive relief to future proceedings. No relief is sought against the Federal defendants at this time. *fn2"

 II

 As a voluntary participant in the federal Medicaid program, California receives federal funding to provide medical assistance to needy persons. *fn3" In return, California must comply with various state plan requirements set forth in 42 U.S.C. § 1396a(a). Cubanski v. Heckler, 781 F.2d 1421, 1423 (9th Cir. 1986). That section provides, in pertinent part, that:

 
"A State plan for medical assistance must --
 
. . . . (17) include reasonable standards . . . for determining eligibility for and the extent of medical assistance under the plan which. . .
 
(D) do not take into account the financial responsibility of any individual for any applicant or recipient of assistance under the plan unless such applicant or recipient is such individual's spouse or such individual's child who is under age 21. . . "

 42 U.S.C. § 1396a(a)(17)(D)(emph. added).

 This provision unambiguously limits financial responsibility for medical care to parents and spouses, for purposes of computing Medicaid eligibility. Thus, income and resources of a spouse are to be considered when determining the eligibility of the other spouse, and income and resources of a parent are to be considered when determining the eligibility of a child. In the absence of actual contribution, however, income from any other individual can not be considered. See also, 42 C.F.R. § 435.602. *fn4"

 The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently examined subsection (17)(D) in Vance v. Hegstrom, 793 F.2d 1018 (9th Cir. 1986) and found that it prohibited mandatory consideration of sibling income in computing eligibility for Medicaid. While acknowledging that 42 U.S.C. § 1396a(a)(17)(B) grants the "Secretary broad powers to set standards to determine what income is available to a Medicaid recipient," 793 F.2d at 1020, the Court readily concluded that the unequivocal language of subsection (17)(D) precludes consideration of any income outside the spousal and parent-child relationships, including sibling income:

 
The plain language of subsection 17(D) explicitly prohibits the deeming *fn5" of income from persons other than a Medicaid applicant's spouse, or a parent in the case of a child who is under twenty-one, blind or permanently and totally ...

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