The Health & Hospital Corporation of Marion County tried to roll back legal protections for millions of vulnerable Americans

6/8/2023 UPDATE: in a 7-2 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected HHC's efforts to roll back civil rights law in the United States, which would have harmed millions of vulnerable Americans.


With this decision, the Supreme Court protected legal rights for residents of publicly owned nursing homes and those who rely on federally funded safety net programs. This is a big win for senior citizens, people with disabilities, and low-income Americans!




In Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County v. Talevski, the Talevski family is seeking to hold a nursing home accountable for their treatment of Gorgi Talevski. Suffering from dementia, Mr. Talevski was chemically restrained with psychotropic medications at a Valparaiso nursing home owned by Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County (HHC). After his family complained to the Indiana State Department of Health, the nursing home retaliated by involuntarily transferring Mr. Talevski to a hospital an hour and a half away from home and abandoned him there.


HHC is the largest nursing home owner in Indiana. In 2003, they came up with a scheme to buy nursing homes across the state, allowing them to qualify for federal Medicaid funding, mostly from low-income senior citizen nursing home patients. HHC then diverted millions of dollars of that Medicaid funding away from their patients and into other things, like capital building projects and hospital expansions. Other Indiana county hospitals soon followed suit with the scheme, redirecting healthcare dollars away from vulnerable nursing home patients to other endeavors. According to the Indy Star's investigation, Indiana's county hospitals own "93% of the state’s nursing homes and [they] siphon off hundreds of millions of dollars, leaving Hoosiers with some of the worst nursing homes in America." The total could be nearly $3 billion.


This Indiana case could impact millions of people around the country because the US Supreme Court could roll back decades of legal precedent which grants court access to vulnerable populations. With Talevski, the Supreme Court could cut off the right to go to court if state officials unlawfully deny, reduce, or terminate benefits guaranteed by federal law. This would make it nearly impossible to hold state governments accountable for violating the rights of those depending on federally funded safety net programs. It would also jeopardize the legal avenues available to victims of nursing home abuse, like Gorgi Talevski.


Depending on how the Supreme Court rules, Talevski could also impact the rights of those in publicly owned nursing homes. It is incredibly difficult to hold nursing homes accountable through Indiana’s medical malpractice law, which “has been criticized for favoring health care providers, not patients,” according to the IndyStar. 


The Talevski family notched a major win for the rights of nursing home residents by prevailing in the 7th Circuit Court. If the Supreme Court allows the lower court ruling to stand, more Hoosier families would have the opportunity to take nursing homes to court based on civil rights claims thanks to the Talevskis’ advocacy.


The Health & Hospital Corporation of Marion County was established in 1951 by Indiana legislators to run Marion County's public health system, which today includes the Marion County Public Health Department and Eskenazi Hospital.


Their seven board members are appointed by the Mayor of Indianapolis (3), the Marion County Commissioners (2), and the Indianapolis City-County Council (2), with staggered terms of four years each.


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