Fort Wayne Indiana Personal Injury Lawyer and Attorney Blog

The Indiana Supreme Court's Decision in Patchett - Yet Another Blow to Responsible Indiana consumers

By David L. Farnbauch

Responsible Indiana consumers who are covered under health insurance plans were dealt a significant setback by the Indiana Supreme Court on October 21, 2016.

In the Mary K. Patchett vs. Ashley N. Lee case, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled that evidence of medical bill "write offs" and "write downs" situations where the patient has government-funded insurance plans (such as Medicare and Medicaid) is now admissible in personal injury lawsuits in the State of Indiana.

At the trial against Patchett, Lee filed a motion to prevent Patchett from introducing any evidence of the reduced payments or discounts that Lee's providers accepted from Medicaid. The trial court, Judge Steven Nation, granted the motion precluding evidence offs. The Court of Appeals affirmed Judge Nation's ruling. Patchett filed an appeal with the Indiana Supreme Court.

In a 3-2 ruling, the Indiana Supreme Court reversed the Indiana Court of Appeals decision and held that Patchett may introduce evidence of the reduced Healthy Indiana Plan payments accepted by Lee's medical providers so long as the defendant can do so without referencing the source of the payments.

The Indiana Supreme Court's decision in Patchett follows the rationale of the 2009 Indiana Supreme Court decision in the infamous Stanley vs. Walker case, another anti-consumer decision by the Court. Patchett and Stanley vs. Walker reward Indiana consumers who are not covered under any health insurance plan and penalize responsible consumers who purchase health insurance or are covered under Medicaid and Medicare. Injured plaintiffs who have no health insurance will be able to recover the "reasonable value" of their medical expenses at trial while responsible plaintiffs who are covered under a health insurance plan will not be entitled to recover the reasonable value of their medical expenses.

The link to the Indiana Supreme Court's decision in Patchett: Mary K. Patchett vs. Ashley N. Lee - Ind Supreme Ct Opinion