In a 7-0 decision, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled in a case decided May 18, 2011, that the statutory time limit for the state to seek recovery from a decedent’s estate for Medicaid payments made by the state for the care of the deceased person does not begin to run until a required form reporting the decedent’s death has been filed with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS). In the case of In re Estate of Centorbi, 2010-0597, Slip Opinion No. 2011-Ohio-2267, the Court held that the state was not barred from filing suit to recover Medicaid benefits from the estate of Josephine Centorbi more than one year after the date of her death, because the administrator of her estate never filed a required form that would have alerted ODJFS that the decedent was a Medicaid recipient who died leaving an estate.
In a unanimous decision, Chief Justice O’Connor wrote that: “R.C. 2117.061 (B)(3) mandates that Fiorille, as the person responsible for the estate, complete a Medicaid estate-recovery reporting form within 30 days of filing the application to relieve the estate from administration. She did not do so. Consequently, the probate court was never informed that notice to the Medicaid estate-recovery program was required.”
The decision holds that R.C. 2117.061(E) sets out alternative statutes of limitations that allow ODJFS to file a claim against an estate within 90 days of receiving notice from the person responsible for the estate of a deceased Medicaid patient or within one year of the decedent’s death, whichever is later. The 90-day statute of limitations does not begin to run until the Medicaid estate-recovery program administrator is notified that an estate has been filed and that the decedent was a Medicaid beneficiary who was 55 years of age or older.
Probate practitioners should note this decision. With this decision, filing the required Medicaid estate-recovery form becomes important to commence the statute of limitations and allow for finality in probating the estate.