Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Case on Medicaid Smokers’ Claims to Tobacco Settlement Funds
The Supreme Court yesterday decided not to hear arguments from former smokers seeking a share of the $246 billion settlement reached between tobacco companies and states in 1998, Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times reports. The court, without comment, refused to hear three lawsuits filed by Medicaid beneficiaries in West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina that sought a share of the settlement to cover their smoking-related medical costs (Stohr, Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times, 12/3). The lawsuits argued that the settlement was reached to repay states for smoking-related Medicaid costs, and as a result, individual Medicaid beneficiaries should receive a share of the funds. Lower courts in the three states have ruled that individual Medicaid beneficiaries do not qualify for a share of the tobacco settlement, and the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this year upheld the decisions (California Healthline, 5/24). Medicaid beneficiaries have filed a number of similar lawsuits nationwide; no courts have ruled in favor of the beneficiaries (Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times, 12/3). The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last month ruled in a lawsuit filed by Medicaid beneficiaries in Hawaii that states have the right to use tobacco settlement funds for "any expenditures deemed appropriate" (AP/Honolulu Advertiser, 11/19). The Supreme Court this year has refused four times to hear lawsuits filed on behalf of Medicaid beneficiaries (Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times, 12/3).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.