Sunday, October 28, 2018

11th Amendment Dismissal Avoids Ruling On Free Exercise Challenge To Medicaid Rule

In Scott v. Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services, (WD VA, Oct. 19, 2018), a Virginia federal district court dismissed on 11th Amendment grounds a suit challenging a state Medicaid rule that deny payment for in-home care services rendered by the parent of a minor child. Here the state refused to grant an exception to allow a child's stepfather to be paid as an attendant caregiver.  The child's mother had argued that her religious beliefs require that only a male relative can help bathe her son, that parents be the primary caretakers of their children, and that no male other than her husband, father, or brother be in the house alone with her. Avoiding a ruling on the merits, the court held:
Scott brought her suit against DMAS itself, rather than the appropriate state official charged with the specific duty of enforcing the contested DMAS policy. Thus, the Ex Parte Young exception does not apply, and her suit is barred regardless of the relief sought.