Texas Journalist Explains Medicaid Flaw In Asbestos Lawsuits, Calls For Change

Photo Credit: File photo, Dallas Observer article, August 13, 2017

A Dallas-based journalist who pioneered coverage of asbestos lawsuit issues is calling for changes while explaining a “Catch 22” that could be shortchanging states’ Medicaid coffers. Christine Biederman, writing as a contributor to The Hill newspaper in Washington D.C., explains that “… Medicaid secondary payer laws provide states potential funds. For example, if a Medicaid enrollee is sickened by asbestos, and Medicaid pays the healthcare bills, Medicaid is entitled to a share of any future personal injury settlement. Medicaid is theoretically required to recover part of the settlement.”

Biederman, who wrote a landmark Dallas Observer investigative story “Toxic Justice” 19 years ago, adds that “… in practice, this means that unless a lawyer, a defendant or another party to a personal injury claim is located in the same state as a Medicaid beneficiary, and thus required by state law to report payments, the state Medicaid agency will likely never learn about the money. Of course, the enrollee is supposed to report the windfall. If you think that usually happens … please get in touch, because I have an investment opportunity for you.”

The story benefits from the fact that Biederman is herself a Texas attorney and will be must-read material in the asbestos world. (Disclosure: Ms. Biederman contributed reporting to the documentary UnSettled by Canadian journalist Paul Johnson; the Courts Monitor has shared resources and research with producers of that film, scheduled for release this fall.)

Medicaid Catch-22: It’s time for the asbestos trusts to do what’s right

UnSettled: Inside the Strange World of Asbestos Lawsuits

Filmmaker Paul Johnson will show a work-in-progress documentary, UnSettled, this week. Photo Credit, Huffington Post 12/12/16 Post

Filmmaker Paul Johnson will show a work-in-progress documentary, UnSettled, this week. Photo Credit, Huffington Post 12/12/16 Post

For the past year, the Canadian journalist Paul Johnson has been making a documentary on the asbestos litigation industry. Entitled “UnSettled: Inside the Strange World of Asbestos Lawsuits,” it examines how the “business” of asbestos litigation has evolved over the years and focuses on just how politically aligned lawyers are on reform issues. Courts Monitor publisher, Sara Warner, spoke with Paul about the project and you can read the full interview in the Huffington Post.

Note: UnSettled will be screened for audience feedback at the Edward R. Murrow Room at the National Press Club, Washington D.C. this Wednesday, Dec. 14 at 3:30 p.m. Paul Johnson will hold a Q&A immediately following the screening. You can see the trailer at www.unsettledthemovie.com.

CM Publisher Posts Veteran’s Asbestos Plight On HuffPo

Courts Monitor Publisher Sara Warner has posted to The Huffington Post about how asbestos cancer policy impacts U.S. veterans. She notes that “… every year, hundreds or even thousands of American veterans who thought they survived military service discover that they were wrong; exposure to asbestos was a mortal wound that took decades to surface, evolving into the much-advertised mesothelioma, a terminal cancer.

She adds that “… both sides also agree that the government under which those vets served excludes itself from the resulting accountability, at least in the U.S. courts. What they do not agree upon is how to fix it, and the resulting debate has left veterans taking sides.”

Read the post here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sara-warner/a-sad-truth-for-veterans_b_9417622.html

In-depth Analysis of Silver Conviction Implications

CCM publisher, Sara Warner, writes an in-depth analysis of the Sheldon Silver conviction implications in her latest Huffington Post blog. Take a look!

By the Playbook: Power, Greed & Corruption.

As reported in the NYT 4/4/15, "Sheldon Silver, the former New York State Assembly speaker, arrived at federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday. Credit Seth Wenig/Associated Press."

As reported in the NYT 4/4/15, “Sheldon Silver, the former New York State Assembly speaker, arrived at federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday. Credit Seth Wenig/Associated Press.”

As reported in the NYT 4/4/15, “Sheldon Silver, the former New York State Assembly speaker, arrived at federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday. Credit Seth Wenig/Associated Press.”[/caption]

When it comes to the Sheldon Silver corruption trial this week, you certainly can follow Politico’s “Playbook” advice and “pick your news.” The NY Post and Times are illustrating that the GOP/Dem. divide certainly makes for contrasting coverage. But Politico’s NY Playbook is doing a solid job linking to various sources, reporting this week in a curtain-raiser story that Silver “… has maintained his innocence and said he was looking forward to this day. On this mild autumn Tuesday, the man who led the State Assembly for over two decades wrapped himself in the system of Albany. What prosecutors cast as misdeeds — collecting referral fees from a real estate law firm employed by major developers and a firm that represented asbestos patients treated by a medical researcher that Silver gave state funding — were presented as the inevitable conflicts of a part-time Legislature where lawmakers have side jobs.”
(This is, of course, a criminal trial. The civil court implications come from allegations that Speaker Silver is charged with a kickback scheme involving referrals for mesothelioma victims, gaining millions of dollars in referral fees while funneling state funding to the clinic making the referrals.)
And we’re off…Read more here.