Sunday, January 21, 2001
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Posted on: Sunday, January 21, 2001

Medicaid recipients lose fight over tobacco money

Advertiser Staff

A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit filed by Medicaid recipients who were seeking a share of the state’s $1.3 billion tobacco settlement.

The lawsuit was filed last May by four Honolulu residents who received Medicaid for treatment of tobacco-related illnesses. The suit also was filed on behalf of all state Medicaid recipients from 1994 to 1996 who were covered for illness caused by tobacco.

The plaintiffs claimed that they were entitled to a share of the settlement money because under federal law, money received in excess of the amount the state paid for the Medicaid coverage should benefit the recipients.

U.S. District Judge David Ezra disagreed. He said ruling in favor of the plaintiffs would be similar to telling the state how to disburse funds from the tobacco settlement.

The 1998 settlement called for the state to be paid about $1.3 billion from the major tobacco companies over 25 years. Hawaii was among 46 states that were part of a $206 billion agreement with the tobacco companies.

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