Conservator Owed Duty to Nursing Home to Timely Apply for Medicaid

Reversing a lower court, a Connecticut appeals court holds that a nursing home resident’s conservator owed a duty of care to the nursing home to timely apply for Medicaid on behalf of the resident. Bloomfield Health Care Center of Connecticut, LLC v. Doyon (Conn. App. Ct., No. AC 40281, Oct. 9, 2018).

A nursing home petitioned the court to appoint a conservator for one of its residents, Samuel Johnson, to assist him with his Medicaid application. The court appointed Jason Doyon as conservator in April 2014. Mr. Doyon waited nine months to file a Medicaid application on Mr. Johnson’s behalf. The state denied Mr. Johnson’s first Medicaid application due to lack of information. Mr. Doyon filed a second application, which the state approved, but Mr. Johnson did not receive any Medicaid benefits before May 2015.

The nursing home sued Mr. Doyon for negligence in failing to apply for and obtain Medicaid benefits on behalf of Mr. Johnson in a timely manner. Mr. Doyon asked for summary judgment, arguing that he did not owe a duty of care to the nursing home. The trial court granted Mr. Doyon summary judgment, and the nursing home appealed.

The Connecticut Court of Appeals reverses, holding that Mr. Doyon owed the nursing home a duty of care. The court rules that it was “readily foreseeable that, if [Mr. Doyon] failed to timely obtain Medicaid benefits for [Mr.] Johnson, the [nursing home] would suffer harm as a result because it would not be reimbursed for the cost of [Mr.] Johnson’s care.” The court also concludes that “the benefits of encouraging conservators to carry out their duties with care and preventing financial harm outweigh any corresponding minimal increase in litigation.”

For the full text of this decision, go to: https://www.jud.ct.gov//external/supapp/Cases/AROap/AP185/185AP462.pdf

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