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Nebraska Must Resume Medicaid Payments

August 8, 2003

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) _ A federal appeals court has ordered Nebraska to begin making Medicaid payments to an estimated 10,000 single working parents who were cut from the program last year.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a state request to review its earlier decision that the parents were entitled to the payments, which total $18 million a year.

The court on Thursday ordered the matter to proceed to trial, with the state making the payments until the case is decided.

The Medicaid program cuts were made during a special budget-cutting legislative session last year. The class-action lawsuit was filed by two low-income mothers who lost Medicaid coverage as a result.

Teresa Kai and Stacy Noller argued that federal law entitled them to continuing coverage through the Transitional Medical Assistance program.

The program provides up to a year of additional health-care coverage for those terminated from Medicaid.

``We expect to see ... thousands of families being told they once again can see the doctor, go to the hospital, and get their prescriptions filled,″ said Milo Mumgaard, of the Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest, which filed a lawsuit against the state.

The appeals court did not rule on the merits of the lawsuit. It simply upheld an earlier ruling by one of its three-judge panels that the parents must continue getting benefits while the case works its way through the courts.

That panel also said the women were likely to succeed on their claims.

Mike Rumbaugh, the lawyer who handles the appeal for the state, said he was unsure if the state would proceed to trial or accept the 8th Circuit’s ruling.

``Do we take this on to trial or do we just figure that the die is cast and that we’re pretty well dead in the water?″ he said. ``We still respectfully disagree with the 8th Circuit’s holding.″

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On The Net:

8th Circuit Opinion: http://www.ca8.uscourts.gov/opns

Nebraska Appleseed Center: http://www.appleseeds.net

Nebraska Health and Human Services System: http://www.hhs.state.ne.us/

Nebraska Legislature: http://www.unicam.state.ne.us/index.htm

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