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DEBBIE STANLEY v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (12/23/87)

decided: December 23, 1987.

DEBBIE STANLEY, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Department of Public Welfare in the case of Appeal of: Debbie Stanley, Case No. 67-0088722.

COUNSEL

Howard R. Maniloff, with him, Allan M. Tabas, Tabas, Furlong & Rosen, for petitioner.

Mary Frances Grabowski, Assistant Counsel, for respondent.

Judge Colins, and Senior Judges Barbieri and Narick, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Colins.

Author: Colins

[ 112 Pa. Commw. Page 158]

The Hershey Medical Center (Hershey), as attorney-in-fact for Debbie Stanley (petitioner), appeals an Order of the Department of Public Welfare (Department) which affirmed a Hearing Examiner's decision denying petitioner medical assistance (MA) benefits on behalf of her newborn son.

Petitioner's infant son received medical care at Hershey's neonatal intensive care unit from November 15, 1984, the date of his birth, until his death some two months later. On November 30, 1984, Hershey submitted an application for MA benefits on petitioner's behalf to the York County Assistance Office (CAO). Pursuant to the application process and in an effort to determine petitioner's eligibility for assistance, CAO representatives interviewed her at her home on January 2, 1985. Thereafter ensued a curious scenario in which petitioner initially represented to the CAO representatives that she and her husband no longer resided together; however, she recanted this statement when later confronted with evidence to the contrary. The CAO representatives then met with petitioner and her husband. When asked about his income, Mr. Stanley replied that he was self-employed

[ 112 Pa. Commw. Page 159]

    but was unable to delineate his income, any of his employers or their locations, or any work expenses associated with his self-employment. The CAO representatives then requested that Mr. Stanley verify his assertions by obtaining written statements from his employers and, by letter of the following day, which, we note, is not of record, reaffirmed their request for such verification and directed that the documentation be received by the CAO by January 11, 1985. When neither petitioner nor her husband responded, the CAO issued a notice of ineligibility for failing to provide sufficient information to establish eligibility. On behalf of petitioner, Hershey appealed the denial of assistance to the Department.

The matter proceeded to a hearing at which Hershey, as attorney-in-fact, appeared for petitioner although she was not personally present. Also present were the CAO Supervisor and the representative who had interviewed petitioner and her husband. After the hearing, the Hearing Officer concluded that the CAO acted properly in attempting to secure verification of petitioner's financial status and held that her MA application was properly denied when no such verification was forthcoming. The Hearing Officer's decision was affirmed by the Office of Hearings and Appeals and by final administrative action of the Department's Deputy Executive Secretary (Secretary). This appeal followed.

Hershey, on behalf of petitioner, raises several arguments in this appeal which we will consider seriatim, keeping in mind that our scope of review of a Department decision is limited to determining whether the necessary findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence, errors of law have been committed and whether the petitioner's constitutional rights have been violated. Goughenour v. Department of Public Welfare, 100 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 401, 514 A.2d 993 (1986).

[ 112 Pa. Commw. Page 160]

Hershey first contends that the Department erroneously relied upon certain regulations to burden petitioner with the necessity of verifying the financial information contained in her MA application. We take Hershey's argument to suggest that the CAO must accept the application at face value, such that its ...


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