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Richard v. Commissioner of Income Maintenance

Supreme Court of Connecticut

April 24, 1990

Louise RICHARD
v.
COMMISSIONER OF INCOME MAINTENANCE.

Argued Jan. 30, 1990.

Page 713

Judith I. Solomon, for appellant (plaintiff).

Martin Rosenfeld, Asst. Atty. Gen., with whom, on the brief, was Clarine Nardi Riddle, Atty. Gen., for appellee (defendant).

Before SHEA, GLASS, COVELLO, HULL and SANTANIELLO, JJ.

[214 Conn. 602] COVELLO, Associate Justice.

This is an administrative appeal from a decision of the commissioner of the department of income maintenance (DIM). The sole issue is whether the commissioner gave adequate public notice of his intention to adopt new Medicaid regulations. We agree with the trial court that the notice was adequate and therefore find no error.

The plaintiff's husband receives Title XIX (Medicaid) assistance. On June 27, 1988, DIM notified the plaintiff of a reduction in her husband's benefits. This in turn resulted in a reduction in the amount of her husband's income that was diverted to her.

On July 6, 1988, pursuant to General Statutes § 17-2a, the plaintiff requested a fair hearing to contest DIM's action. [1] On August 1, 1988, a hearing was [214 Conn. 603] held at the plaintiff's home. On September 8, 1988, pursuant to General Statutes § 17-2b, the fair hearing officer issued a decision that concluded, inter alia, that as of October 1, 1988, the plaintiff's benefits would be reduced. On September 30, 1988, pursuant to General Statutes §§ 17-2b and 4-183, the plaintiff appealed to the Superior Court [2] claiming, inter alia, that the defendant's action "was made upon unlawful procedure, and is clearly erroneous." Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that public notice of the commissioner's intention to adopt a new public assistance policy manual was inadequate and not in compliance with the applicable provision of the Uniform Administrative Procedure Act, General Statutes § 4-168(a). [3]

Page 714

On June 8, 1989, the trial court concluded that the commissioner's notice to the public complied with § 4-168(a), that the new public assistance policy manual that reduced the plaintiff's benefits was therefore [214 Conn. 604] validly promulgated, and rendered judgment dismissing the appeal. On July 2, 1989, the plaintiff appealed to the Appellate Court. We thereafter transferred the matter to ourselves in accordance with Practice Book § 4023.

On appeal, the plaintiff asks us to focus solely on her claim that the notice furnished by the commissioner did not comply with § 4-168(a) and, therefore, that DIM's new public assistance policy manual was not promulgated in accordance with the legislature's mandate; General Statutes § 17-3f(c); that the new manual be adopted in accordance with the Uniform Administrative Procedure Act. [4] Examination of the record discloses that on January 6, 1987, DIM published a notice of intent to adopt regulations in the Connecticut Law Journal. [5] The notice stated, inter alia: "These new regulations[214 Conn. 605] are designed to

Page 715

set forth in clear and concise language the policies and procedures used by the department in implementing and enforcing federal and [214 Conn. 606] state law. In particular, the regulations (Manual) restate and/or revise the policies and procedures of the Department as they relate to the eligibility requirements for such programs as Aid to Families with [214 Conn. 607] Dependent Children, Medicaid, State Supplement, and Food Stamps and Refugee Assistance. The new manual contains all department policy regulations and substantive procedure which affect the rights or procedures available to the public pertaining to program eligibility.... Copies of the full text of the new manual are available at no cost upon request from the Policy Unit, Department of Income Maintenance, Hartford, Connecticut 06106...."

Section 4-168(a) sets forth the required content of a notice of intent to adopt regulations. On January 6, 1987, the date the notice was published in the Connecticut Law Journal, [6] subsection (a)(1)(A) specified in part: "The notice shall include (A) either a statement of the terms or of the substance of the proposed regulation or a description sufficiently detailed so as to apprise persons likely to be affected of the issues and subjects involved in the proposed regulation, (B) a statement of the purposes for which the regulation is proposed, (C) a reference to the statutory authority for the proposed regulation and (D) the time when, the place where and the manner in which interested persons may present their views thereon."

The plaintiff first argues that the notice did not comply with subsection (a)(1)(A) in that it was not sufficiently specific so as to fairly advise those affected of the terms and substance of the proposed manual and the issues and subjects involved. We do not agree.

Subsection (a)(1)(A) requires either "a statement of the terms" or "of the substance" or a "description sufficiently detailed" all to the end that "persons likely to be affected" are apprised "of the issues and subjects involved...." In this connection, the notice first states that the commissioner "proposes to adopt regulations replacing its State Social Services Policy Manual with a new manual." It specifically recites that the [214 Conn. 608] Manual "restate[s] and/or revise[s] the policies and procedures of [DIM] as they relate to the eligibility requirements ...


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