Mar 7

State Cannot Retroactively Recover Medicaid Benefits from Estates


A Michigan appeals court rules that the state cannot recover Medicaid benefits from estates before the date that the estate recovery program was implemented. In re Estate of Gorney (Mich. Ct. App., No. 323090, Feb. 4, 2016).

Four individuals applied for Medicaid benefits sometime before 2010. They did not receive any notification about estate recovery at the time of their initial application. In 2011, the state received federal approval for its estate recovery program, and the state determined that July 1, 2010, was the effective date. In 2012, the Medicaid recipients applied for Medicaid redetermination and received notice that the state could seek recovery for Medicaid benefits from their estates.

When the recipients died, the state filed claims against their estates to recover Medicaid benefits paid since July 1, 2010, but the estates denied the claims. The probate court rejected the state’s claim, and the state appealed. The estates argued that the state violated due process by recovering benefits paid since July 1, 2010, when the state did not notify them about the estate recovery program until 2012. 

The Michigan Court of Appeals affirms in part, holding that while the notice provided to the estates in 2012 did not violate due process, the state could not recover benefits retroactive to July 1, 2010. According to the court, “by applying the recovery program retroactively to July 1, 2010, the Legislature deprived individuals of their right to elect whether to accept benefits and encumber their estates, or whether to make alternative healthcare arrangements.”

For the full text of this decision, go to: