In 2005, a child was born in Ohio with severe brain damage. In 2007, when his mother moved to West Virginia, she enrolled him in this state's Medicaid program.
In 2009, a medical malpractice case was settled for $3.6 million.
As Lawrence Messina of The Associated Press
reported, the Medicaid program then sought to recover at least half of the more than $557,200 it had spent on the child's care.
The mother objected, and a circuit judge limited Medicaid's recovery to $79,000. In June, the state Supreme Court upheld that decision.
But it sparked a clear-thinking dissent from Justice Menis Ketchum:
"As a result of the majority holding, West Virginia's taxpayers will not be reimbursed for the millions of dollars a year it pays on the medical bills of Medicaid recipients," he wrote.
"Settlements paid by insurance companies to Medicaid recipients will be kept by the recipients and West Virginia will keep paying their medical bills."
He added: "West Virginia's taxpayers will be paying, through Medicaid, plaintiff's future medical bills that will total more than $19 million. The plaintiff will be able to use the millions put in the special needs trust as a supplement to enhance quality of life."