Law Firm Representing Authorized Representative Does Not Have Standing to Appeal Medicaid Denial on Behalf of Applicant

A Virginia appeals court dismisses a Medicaid appeal brought by the applicant's authorized representative because the law firm pursuing the appeal represented the nursing home and did not have an attorney-client relationship with the applicant. Lynch v. Bedford County Department of Social Services (Va. Ct. App., No. 1437-18-3, June 11, 2019).

Nursing home resident Frances Lynch appointed the nursing home as her authorized representative in order to apply for Medicaid. The state denied Ms. Lynch's Medicaid application, and the nursing home appealed on her behalf. The nursing home was represented by an attorney from the law firm sb2 inc.

The state moved to dismiss the appeal, arguing that the nursing home lacked standing because the law firm represents the nursing home, not Ms. Lynch. Under state law, either a litigant or her attorney must sign documents in judicial proceedings. The trial court dismissed the case, and the nursing home appealed.

The Virginia Court of Appeals affirms, holding that because Ms. Lynch did not have an attorney-client relationship with the law firm representing the nursing home, the nursing home did not have standing to pursue the appeal. According to the court, the fact that the nursing home "was acting as [Ms.] Lynch’s authorized representative under federal Medicaid regulations does not supplant or erode the requirement that there must be an attorney-client relationship between the litigant, in this case [Ms.] Lynch, and counsel appearing and signing pleadings on her behalf."

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