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FRIEDMAN v. BERGER

March 17, 1976

Ruth FRIEDMAN et al.,
v.
Stephen BERGER, Individually and as Commissioner of the New York State Department of Social Services, et al., Defendants


Wyatt, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: WYATT

WYATT, District Judge.

This is a motion by plaintiffs for an order (a) "certifying" (determining) that this action may be maintained as a class action (Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(c)(1)) and (b) granting a preliminary injunction restraining the alleged unlawful enforcement of Section 360.5(e) of Title 18 of the official Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York (NYCRR).

 1.

 In 1965, Congress added a new Title XIX to the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. § 1396 and following). This was entitled "Grants to States for Medical Assistance Programs" and apparently has come to be called "Medicaid".

 The 1965 addition provided for payments by the federal government to states which submit and secure approval by HEW of state plans for medical assistance. New York is such a state.

 The Medicaid statute provides through the states for "medical assistance on behalf of . . . aged, blind or disabled individuals, whose income and resources are insufficient to meet the costs of necessary medical services . . ." (42 U.S.C. § 1396).

 The Medicaid statute (as is true of other parts of the Social Security Act) is an aggravated assault on the English language, resistant to attempts to understand it. The statute is complicated and murky, not only difficult to administer and to interpret but a poor example to those who would like to use plain and simple expressions. The present motion must be decided, however, and what follows is the result of best efforts to find the meaning of the Medicaid statute and other relevant statutes and regulations.

 2.

 The case at bar deals with two groups eligible for Medicaid assistance, the "categorically needy" and the "medically needy". The quoted terms come from federal regulations cited hereafter.

 The eligibility of the two groups is based on provisions of the Medicaid statute (42 U.S.C. § 1396a(a)(10) and (17)) and the related New York statute (Social Services Law § 366(1)(a)(2) and (5)).

 3.

 By federal law, the state plans for medical assistance must provide "for making medical assistance available to all individuals . . . with respect to whom supplemental security income benefits are being paid under subchapter XVI of this chapter" (42 U.S.C. § 1396a(a)(10)(B)).

 "[Subchapter] XVI of this chapter" provides for "Supplemental Security Income for Aged, Blind and Disabled" (42 U.S.C. §§ 1381-1383c). Eligible individuals are those aged, blind, or disabled whose income does not exceed $1752 per year (42 U.S.C. § 1382(a)(1)). Money benefits are payable; these are usually called Supplemental Security Income benefits or "SSI benefits".

 Federal regulations describe those who are "categorically needy" in relevant part as follows (45 CFR § 248.1(a)(1)(i)):

 
"In order to be considered as categorically needy [for purposes of the Medicaid statute] an individual must in general be receiving financial assistance or sufficiently in need to be financially eligible for financial assistance under title . . . XVI of the Social Security Act . . .".

 The New York plan for medical assistance is provided for in Title 11 of Article 5 of the Social Services Law ("SSL") (§§ 363-369).

 SSL § 366(1)(a)(2) provides for medical assistance to persons who are "receiving or . . . eligible to receive federal supplemental security income payments . . . ." This ...


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