Articles Posted in U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals

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Petitioners, a group of hospitals that serve a significant number of elderly, very low-income patients, filed suit challenging the Secretary's issuance of a rule concerning the "disproportionate share percentage" calculation of supplemental payments for low-income Medicare patients. When the Secretary published reimbursement calculations for FY 2007, petitioners learned that their payments would decrease by tens of millions of dollars per year. The rule change had an enormous financial consequence on hospitals. The court held that the Secretary did not provide adequate notice and opportunity to comment before promulgating its 2004 rule, and so affirmed the portion of the district court's opinion vacating the rule. The court reversed only the portion of the district court's opinion directing the Secretary to recalculate the hospitals' reimbursements using the alternate methodology. View "Allina Health Services, et al. v. Sebelius" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA) raising constitutional challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), Pub. L. No 111-148, 124 Stat. 119; raising statutory challenges to actions of HHS and the Commissioner relating to the implementation of the ACA and prior Medical legislation; and attacking the failure of defendants to render an "accounting" that would alter the American people to the insolvency towards which Medicare and Social Security programs were heading. On appeal, plaintiffs challenged the district court's dismissal of their claims. The court rejected plaintiffs' claims that 26 U.S.C. 5000A, which was sustained as a valid exercise of the taxing power, violated the Fifth Amendment's prohibition of the taking of private property without just compensation and violated the origination clause. The court concluded that plaintiffs' substantive attack on the Social Security Program Operations Manual System (POMS) provisions was clearly foreclosed by its decision in Hall v. Sebelius, holding that the statutory text establishing Medicare Part A precludes any option not to be entitled to benefits. The court rejected plaintiffs' second statutory claim attacking an interim final rule. Finally, the court concluded that plaintiffs failed to provide a legal argument for their claims against the Commissioner and Secretary, and therefore, the court lacked jurisdiction over plaintiffs' claim to an "accounting." Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Assoc. Amer. Physicians, et al. v. Sebelius, et al." on Justia Law

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In 2007, the Secretary revamped Medicare's Inpatient Prospective Payment System, updating the diagnostic weighting used to calculate reimbursements for hospitals treating the program's beneficiaries. Plaintiffs sought review of the Secretary's decision regarding a downward prospective adjustment for hospital-specific rate payments. The district court concluded that the statutory scheme was ambiguous and deferred to the Secretary's reasonable interpretation of the adjustment provisions. Applying Chevron deference, the court agreed with the district court's conclusion that the statutory scheme was ambiguous and unclear. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Adirondack Medical Center, et al. v. Sebelius" on Justia Law

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Gentiva, a provider of home healthcare services, contended that the Secretary violated the Medicare statute, 42 U.S.C. 1395ddd(f)(3), by delegating to an outside contractor the authority to determine whether Gentiva's Medicare reimbursement claims exhibited a "sustained or high level of payment error." The court affirmed the district court's decision to defer, under Chevron deference, to the Secretary's reasonable interpretation of section 1395ddd(f)(3). The court also agreed with the district court that section 1395ddd(f)(3) precluded the court from reviewing the merits of the "sustained or high level of payment error" determination. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment in its entirety. View "Gentiva Healthcare Corp. v. Sebelius" on Justia Law

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FTM applied to the IRS for a charitable tax exemption under I.R.C. 501(a) and (c)(3) based on its trustee services. FTM subsequently filed this action seeking a declaration that it was a tax exempt charitable organization after the IRS preliminarily denied it's application. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the government, agreeing with the district court that FTM was not operated exclusively for charitable purposes. View "Family Trust of MA, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

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Catholic Health filed suit under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 500 et seq., challenging the agency's interpretation of the Medicare statute and its application to the 1997 cost-reporting period. The district court held that the Secretary's decision was unlawful because the agency, in calculating reimbursements owed for a 1997 cost-reporting period, had retroactively applied a 2004 rulemaking without congressional authorization. The court concluded that the policy on which the agency relied was first announced in an adjudication in 2000, not in the 2004 rulemaking; the agency's interpretation of the statute was permissible; the denial of reimbursements was not arbitrary and capricious; and Catholic Health had not shown that it relied to its detriment on the position the agency allegedly held before 2000. Accordingly, the court reversed the judgment of the district court. View "Catholic Health Initiatives Iowa Corp. v. Sebelius" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, teaching hospitals, received Medicare payments to offset the costs associated with training "full-time equivalent" residents and intern physicians (FTEs). In 1997, Congress capped those payments in such a way that the number of FTEs the hospitals trained in 1996 would dictate the maximum reimbursement in all future years. Although the parties agreed that the 1996 data was not accurate, the Secretary believed that this predicate fact could not be corrected outside the three-year reopening window. The court held that the reopening regulation allowed for modification of predicate facts in closed years provided the change would only impact the total reimbursement determination in open years. Alternatively, the court agreed with the district court that the Secretary had acted arbitrarily in treating similarly situated parties differently. The court rejected the Secretary's claim that the Medicare Act, 42 U.S.C. 1395 et seq., would not allow the intermediary to change the 1996 GME resident count without changing the corresponding reimbursement amount, which all parties conceded would constitute a reopening of an "Intermediary determination." Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Kaiser Foundation Hospitals v. Sebelius" on Justia Law

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Five Medicaid recipients filed a class action against the District, alleging that the District systematically denied Medicaid coverage of prescription medications without providing the written notice required by federal and D.C. law. The district court dismissed the case on the pleadings, concluding that plaintiffs lacked standing to pursue their claims for injunctive and declaratory relief. At least with regard to one plaintiff, John Doe, the allegations sufficiently established injury, causation, and redressability and the court concluded that Doe had standing to pursue his claims for injunctive and declaratory relief. Therefore, the court had no need to decide whether the other plaintiffs had standing and reversed the judgment, remanding for further proceedings. View "NB, et al. v. DC, et al." on Justia Law

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In 1995, two non-profit hospitals consolidated to form Pinnacle. Pinnacle subsequently submitted a Medicare reimbursement claim for the losses the hospitals had incurred through the sale of their depreciable assets in the consolidation. The Administrator denied Pinnacle's claim, and that order became the final decision of the Secretary. On Pinnacle's Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq., challenge, the district court upheld the Secretary's decision in full. Because the Secretary's interpretation of the relevant Medicare regulations was not plainly erroneous or inconsistent with the regulation, the court concluded that the Secretary reasonably applied the bona fide sale requirement to a reimbursement request from a participant in a "statutory merger." The court also held that the Secretary's finding that the bona fide sale requirement applied to consolidations involving non-profit Medicare providers, like Pinnacle, was not plainly erroneous or inconsistent with the regulation. Finally, substantial evidence supported the Secretary's finding that Pinnacle did not satisfy the bona fide sale requirement. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Pinnacle Health Hospitals v. Sebelius" on Justia Law

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Suppliers appealed the district court's dismissal of their action against the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Suppliers challenged a regulation addressing the "applicable financial standards" that a durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies (DMEPOS) supplier must meet to be eligible for a Medicare contract under the competitive process established in 42 U.S.C. 1395w-3 (DMEPOS Statute). The court affirmed the district court's dismissal on the ground that section 1395w-3(11) precluded judicial review of the Secretary's financial standards regulation and that the district court therefore lacked subject matter jurisdiction. View "Texas Alliance For Home Care, et al. v. Sebelius, et al." on Justia Law