A Fight for One Man’s Rights Turns Into a National Matter

One upcoming Supreme Court decision may have massive implications for the rights of millions of patients across New Mexico and the rest of the United States. The oral arguments for this case, Health and Hospital Corp. v. Talevski, began on Tuesday, November 8th.

The Case

The chain of events started when a woman sued the agency running the nursing home where her father lived, who suffered from dementia. What she didn’t expect was for this fight for her father’s individual rights to turn into a battle for patients’ rights on a national scale. And since federally funded programs like Medicaid would lose any leverage they have to enforce their patients’ rights, millions of people across the country are hanging on the outcome.

She claims that he experienced nursing home abuse by being given too much medication to make him sleep for as long as possible and other improper management of his dementia, ultimately leading to his death. Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County counters that the man’s aggressive and violent behavior necessitated these care measures.

How This Case Got to the SCOTUS

Initially, HHC of Marion County attempted to have the case dismissed, but the lawsuit was allowed to move forward when federal courts gave it their approval. What happened next came as a surprise to everyone: The HHC of Marion County took the case to the Supreme Court. Then, possibly even more surprising, the SCOTUS made the decision to hear the case.

Some say they find it unsettling that the Supreme Court would choose to hear this case. The SCOTUS is presented with thousands of cases every year, but it only hears a small fraction of them. Many experts expressed their surprise and concern at this move by the SCOTUS to accept this case that seems to be well settled by decades of precedence.

But this isn’t the first time recently that the Supreme Court decided to hear cases that were also seemingly clear-cut and settled by precedent years or even decades ago. Some have likened the Supreme Court’s decision to hear this case to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, which has been more than enough to concern Medicaid patients and others whose rights would be impacted by the outcome.

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