State's Medicaid Lien Has Priority Even Though It Was Filed After Recipient Died

An Ohio appeals court rules that the state has priority over a nursing home in a claim for Medicaid recovery against the estate of a nursing home resident even though the state did not file a lien against the resident's property until after the resident died. Wiesenmayer v. Vaspory (Ohio Ct. App., 2ndDist., No. 27931, May 10, 2019).

Nursing home resident Margaret Edwards received Medicaid benefits for five months before she died. After she died, the state recorded a lien on her property in order to recover Medicaid benefits it paid on her behalf.

The probate court appointed R.C. Wiesenmayer administrator for Ms. Edwards' estate, and he requested authority to sell Ms. Edwards' property. The nursing home filed a claim against the estate for unpaid bills. The state also filed a claim to recover Medicaid benefits. The trial court ruled that the state's lien was valid and had priority. The nursing home appealed, arguing that the state's lien was not valid because it was not recorded before Ms. Edwards died.

The Ohio Court of Appeals, Second District, affirms, holding that the state's lien is valid and has priority over the nursing home's claim. Noting that "the estate recovery program contemplates the recovery of Medicaid costs from the assets of deceased recipients," the court rules that the state's Medicaid lien law "does not apply exclusively to living, permanently institutionalized recipients of Medicaid benefits, and consequently, that [the state] was not required to record its lien against [Ms.] Edwards’s property before she died."

Mr. Wiesenmayer was represented by longtime Ohio elder law attorney William J. Browning.

For the full text of this decision, go to: http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/rod/docs/pdf/2/2019/2019-Ohio-1805.pdf

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