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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's decision affirming the Commissioner's denial of plaintiff's application for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income benefits. The panel held that the ALJ committed legal error when she failed to provide legally sufficient reasons to discount the opinions of examining psychologist Dr. Hart, and when she failed to provide germane reasons to discount the opinions of treating nurse practitioner Dr. Sorrell; the ALJ's error in discounting these opinions permeated her hypothetical to the vocational expert regarding the availability of a significant number of jobs in the national economy that plaintiff could perform; and therefore the panel remanded for an award of benefits. View "Popa v. Berryhill" on Justia Law

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The Hospitals challenged HHS's implementation of a Medicare outlier-payment program in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The Hospitals contend that HHS violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 551 et seq., by failing to identify and appropriately respond to flaws in its methodology that enabled certain "turbo-charging" hospitals to manipulate the system and receive excessive payments at the expense of non-turbo-charging hospitals, including the Hospitals. The DC Circuit held that District Hospital Partners, L.P. v. Burwell, 786 F.3d 46 (D.C. Cir. 2015), controlled to the extent that the Hospitals repeated challenges decided in that case. In regard to the remaining challenges, the court affirmed the district court's denials of the Hospitals' motions to supplement the record and to amend their complaint, and its decision that HHS acted reasonably in a manner consistent with the Medicare Act in fiscal years (FYs) 1997 through 2003, and 2007. However, because HHS inadequately explained aspects of the calculations for FYs 2004 through 2006, the court reversed summary judgment in that regard and remanded for further proceedings. View "Banner Health v. Price" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the Hospitals' suit to recover recoupments. At issue was whether, under the Medicare Act, 42 U.S.C. 1395w-21 to 1395w-29, the Hospitals must exhaust their administrative remedies before bringing suit for underpayment by the Medicare Advantage Organization (MAO) that manages enrollee benefits. The court held that the Hospitals, who were challenging CIP's recoupment decision, were parties to an "organization determination" who were subject to the administrative exhaustion requirements of the Medicare Act. The court noted that although it was sympathetic to the concern HHS has expressed in amicus briefs, the language of the Medicare Act and its implementing regulations was clear that billing disputes between MAOs and noncontract provider assignees qualify as "organization determinations" and were thus subject to the Act's exhaustion requirement. View "Tenet HealthSystem GB, Inc. v. Care Improvement Plus South Central Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's judgment affirming the ALJ's denial of plaintiff's applications for disability benefits and supplemental security income (SSI). The panel held that the ALJ failed to credit plaintiff's testimony regarding the intensity, persistence, and limiting effects of his symptoms to the extent that testimony was "inconsistent with the residual functional capacity assessment [(RFC)]"; this boilerplate language encouraged an inaccurate assessment of a claimant's credibility and also permitted determination of RFCs that were inconsistent with truly credible testimony; the approach taken by the ALJ was inconsistent with the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C 301-1397m, and should not be used in disability decisions; and the ALJ did not give clear and convincing reasons for rejecting plaintiff's symptom testimony. View "Laborin v. Berryhill" on Justia Law

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Healthcare Providers sought a mandamus order to force the HHS Secretary to clear the administrative appeals backlog and adhere to the Medicare statute's timeframe to complete the process. The district court subsequently determined that mandamus was appropriate and adopted Healthcare Provider's proposed timetable when the Secretary refused to engage with the premise of setting a timetable at all and proposed no alternative targets. The DC Circuit held that, notwithstanding the district court's earnest efforts to make do with what the parties presented, the failure to seriously test the Secretary's assertion of impossibility and to make a concomitant finding of possibility was an abuse of discretion. Accordingly, the court vacated the mandamus order and the order denying reconsideration, and remanded to the district court to evaluate the merits of the Secretary's claim that unlawful compliance would be impossible. View "American Hospital Assoc. v. Price" on Justia Law

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Hartgrove, a psychiatric hospital, is enrolled with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services to receive Medicaid reimbursement. Hartgrove agreed to comply with all federal and state laws and “to be fully liable for the truth, accuracy and completeness of all claims submitted.” Upon receipt of Medicaid reimbursements, Hartgrove is required to certify that the services identified in the billing information were actually provided. On 13 occasions in 2011, adolescent patients suffering from acute mental illness were placed in a group therapy room, rather than patient rooms, sleeping on roll-out beds until patient rooms were available. Hartgrove submitted Medicaid claims for inpatient care for those patients. Bellevue, a Hartgrove nursing counselor until 2014, voluntarily provided the information on which his allegations are based to federal and state authorities, then filed a qui tam action under the False Claims Act (FCA), 31 U.S.C. 3729, and the Illinois False Claims Act. Both declined to intervene. The district court dismissed and denied Bellevue’s motion to reconsider in light of the Supreme Court’s 2016 “Universal Health” holding that an implied false certification theory is a viable basis for FCA liability. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Bellevue’s allegations fall within the FCA's public‐disclosure bar; the information was available in audit reports and letters. View "Bellevue v. Universal Health Services of Hartgrove, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs purchased Illinois nursing homes and obtained new state licenses and federal Medicare provider numbers. Most of the residents in the 10 homes qualify for Medicaid assistance. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (IDHFS) administers Medicaid funds under 42 U.S.C. 1396-1396w-5, reimbursing nursing homes for Medicaid-eligible expenses on a per diem basis. The rate must be calculated annually based on the facility's costs. When ownership of a home changes, state law requires IDHFS to calculate a new rate based on the new owner’s report of costs during at least the first six months of operation. The Medicaid Act requires states to use a public process, with notice and an opportunity to comment, in determining payment rates. The owners allege that IDHFS failed to: recalculate their reimbursement rates; provide an adequate notice-and-comment process; and comply with the state plan, costing them $12 million in unreimbursed costs. The Seventh Circuit affirmed denial of a motion to dismiss. Section 1396a(a)(13)(A) confers a right that is presumably enforceable under 42 U.S.C. 1983; it benefits the owners and is not so amorphous that its enforcement would strain judicial competence. While the Eleventh Amendment may bar some of the requested relief, if it appears that owners have been underpaid, that does not deprive the court of jurisdiction over the case as a whole. View "BT Bourbonnais Care, LLC v. Norwood" on Justia Law

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Texas Neighborhood Services received Head Start grant money to provide childcare services to low-income families in Texas. The Department subsequently required Neighborhood Services to repay $1.3 million in federal funds it awarded to staff in the form of performance bonuses. The Department argued that the payments were unreasonable and inadequately documented and the Appeals Board agreed. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's rejection of Neighborhood Services' challenge under the Administrative Procedures Act. In this case, Neighborhood Services failed to produce documentation sufficient to show that it was awarding performances in accordance with the Office of Management and Budget's Circular A-122, which explains when and how the government will reimburse federal grantees, including organizations receiving Head Start money, for different types of expenses. View "Texas Neighborhood Services v. HHS" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit held that the Secretary erred in approving a state plan amendment (SPA) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1396(a)(30)(A), without requiring any evidence regarding the extent that such care and services were available to the general population in the geographic area. In this case, the Secretary's approval of the SPA absent considerations of some form of comparative-access data was arbitrary and capricious. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the Secretary and remanded. View "Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian v. Price" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the denial of disability insurance benefits, holding that the ALJ failed to reconcile an apparent conflict between the testimony of the vocational expert and the Department of Labor’s Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT). Because the panel could not determine from the record, the DOT, or the panel's common experience whether the jobs in question require both hands, the panel could not say that the ALJ's failure to inquire was harmless. Accordingly, the panel remanded the case to permit the ALJ to follow up with the vocational expert. View "Lamear v. Berryhill" on Justia Law