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CRAMMER v. COMMONWEALTH (11/17/72)

decided: November 17, 1972.

CRAMMER, APPELLANT,
v.
COMMONWEALTH



Appeal from order of Commonwealth Court, No. 39 C.D. 1971, reversing order of Secretary of Public Welfare in case of Edna F. Crammer v. Department of Public Welfare, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

COUNSEL

Eugene F. Zenobi, with him Louis M. Shucker, for appellant.

Marx S. Leopold, Assistant Attorney General, with him J. Shane Creamer, Attorney General, for Department of Welfare, appellee.

Jones, C. J., Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Roberts.

Author: Roberts

[ 449 Pa. Page 529]

Appellant, Mrs. Edna F. Crammer, challenges the action of the Secretary of the Department of Public

[ 449 Pa. Page 530]

Welfare in excluding her from the "categorically needy" program of medical assistance under Title XIX of the Social Security Act.*fn1 We conclude that appellant has erroneously been denied benefits. We reverse.

I

Mrs. Crammer is sixty-two years of age and has been determined to be, by the Social Security Administration, totally and permanently disabled. Prior to March of 1970, appellant was receiving a $95.00 per month Department of Public Welfare (hereinafter the Department) public assistance payment.*fn2 In addition to this $95.00 per month cash payment, Mrs. Crammer was classed as "categorically needy" under the Pennsylvania Medicaid program,*fn3 thus entitling her to receive, among other medical services, free prescribed medications. As determined by the Department, appellant has necessary and recurring drug expenses of approximately $60.00 per month.

In March of 1970, appellant's cash assistance benefits (derived exclusively from Old Age Survivors Disability Insurance) were increased to the present $115.00 per month. Under Department regulations appellant

[ 449 Pa. Page 531]

    was required to accept*fn4 this additional $20.00 per month.*fn5 Because of this increase appellant was removed from the "categorically needy" Medicaid program. The Department thereafter transferred appellant to the "medically needy" program,*fn6 which, under applicable Pennsylvania statutes,*fn7 does not, and did not, afford appellant free prescription medicines.*fn8 As a result of

[ 449 Pa. Page 532]

    the Department's determination, Mrs. Crammer's medicinal needs must now be met by expending $60.00 per month from her Social Security allotment. The end economic result of this reclassification is that appellant now is left with only $55.00 per month to meet her "common needs" of food, shelter, clothing and incidentals. Before her Social Security increase, appellant was allowed $40.00 more per month to meet these identical "common needs".

After exhausting all administrative remedies,*fn9 appellant appealed to the Commonwealth Court which, after an initial argument before a three-judge panel, ordered reargument before the court en banc. On November 19, 1971, the Commonwealth Court affirmed,*fn10 by an equally divided court, the Department's action denying appellant "categorically needy" benefits. We granted allocatur.

II

Our determination of appellant's claim is primarily controlled by Title XIX of the Federal Social Security Act and the ...


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