Judge's ruling on class action suit a 'limited victory' for elderly and disabled nursing home residents

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Thousands of institutionalized Medicaid recipients in Florida will not be able to move forward with a lawsuit after a federal judge removed its class-action status.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ruled in favor this week of the Medicaid patients who sued the state in 2008. But by removing the class action part of the suit, the ruling applies to one person rather than the 8,500 people estimated to be in a similar situation.

Seven original plaintiffs had sued the state in 2008, saying that as Medicaid recipients, they should be allowed to live in other settings. But five have died, and a sixth changed his mind, which led to Hinkle vacating the class-action status.  He also cited changes to the state's Medicaid program that now gives more people an option to leave a nursing home. 

However, Hinkle did write that "the state apparently has made errors ... in failing to transition a small number of nursing home residents.”  A spokesman for the AARP told the Miami Herald the ruling was a “limited victory.”