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In re Estate of Keyes

Court of Appeals of Michigan

April 16, 2015

In re KEYES Estate. DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITY HEALTH, Appellant,
v.
ESTATE OF ESTHER KEYES, Appellee

Bay Probate Court. LC No. 13-049103-CZ.

Before: O'CONNELL, P.J., and FORT HOOD and GADOLA, JJ.

OPINION

Page 389

[310 Mich.App. 268] Peter D. O'Connell, P.J.

The Department of Community Health (the Department) appeals as of right the trial court's order granting summary disposition in favor of the estate of Esther Keyes under MCR 2.116(C)(10). The Department sought estate recovery under Michigan's Medicaid estate recovery program, MCL 400.112g et seq (the Act). The trial court ruled that the estate did not receive sufficient statutory notice under the Act and estate recovery would violate the estate's due process rights. Because we conclude that the Department provided the estate with timely notice when the estate sought Medicaid benefits in May 2012, we reverse and remand.

I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

In 2007, our Legislature amended the Michigan Social Welfare Act. 2007 PA 74. This amendment required the Department to establish a Medicaid estate recovery program, which would not be implemented until approved by the federal government. See MCL 400.112g(2) and (5). The federal government did not approve Michigan's program until July 2011.

Esther was admitted to a nursing home in April 2010 and began receiving Medicaid[1] benefits. In May 2012, Robert Keyes, her son, filled out a Medicaid application form and acknowledged that the estate was subject to Medicaid recovery:

[310 Mich.App. 269] I understand that upon my death the Michigan Department of Community Health has the legal right to seek recovery from my estate for services paid by Medicaid. MDCH will not make a claim against the estate while there is a legal surviving spouse or a legal surviving child who is under the age of 21, blind, or disabled living in the home. An estate consists of real and personal property. Estate Recovery only applies to certain Medicaid recipients who received Medicaid services after the implementation date of the program.

Esther died in January 2013 and the Department sought recovery against her estate. When the estate disallowed the expense, the Department filed suit against the estate, seeking to recover about $110,000.

The estate moved for summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(10), contending that the Department could not recover because the Department did not notify Esther of the possibility of estate recovery when she enrolled in Medicaid. The trial court determined that the Department had failed to notify recipients " at the time of enrollment," as the Act required.[2] It also determined that this failure violated the estate's due process rights. It therefore granted summary disposition in favor of the estate.

II. STANDARDS OF REVIEW

This Court reviews de novo issues of due process and the trial court's decision on a motion for summary disposition. Elba Twp v Gratiot Co Drain Comm'r, 493 Mich. 265, 277; 831 N.W.2d 204 (2013). A party is entitled to summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(10) when " there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, ...


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