Articles Posted in Health Law

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Two Mississippi hospitals filed suit alleging that the government miscalculated their Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments. In this case, the district court gave substantial deference to the interpretation of HHS, which read that the relevant statute and regulation to exclude from the numerator Mississippi's uncompensated care pool (UCCP) patient days. However, the Fifth Circuit held that HHS's position was foreclosed by the text and structure of the relevant provisions. Therefore, HHS's decision to exclude UCCP patient days from the Medicaid fraction's numerator was not in accordance with law. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Forrest General Hospital v. Azar" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision to affirm the revocation of two physicians' Medicare privileges. The court held that the physicians billed for services using their own Medicare National Provider Identifiers without providing direct supervision while traveling outside of the country; the ALJ's summary judgment dismissal of the physicians' claims was supported by substantial evidence; the physicians' constitutional claims were rejected; the court agreed with its sister circuits that have determined that participation in the federal Medicare reimbursement program is not a property interest; and the court deferred to CMS's decision to bar the physicians from re-enrolling in the Medicare program for three years. View "Shah v. Azar" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to HHS in an action under the Administrative Procedure Act arising from a demonstration project deviating from the ordinary Medicare reimbursement rules. In this case Texas Tech could keep the additional fees it received for implementing the project only if its care management model achieved cost savings. When the government determined that Texas Tech failed to do so, it demanded return of about $8 million in fees. As a preliminary matter, the court held that the demonstration agreement was not a procurement contract and the HHS Departmental Appeals Board had jurisdiction over this case. On the merits, the court held that it need not resolve whether the Board erred in suggesting that the common law of contracts never informs grant disputes, because, even if it did, the Board made valid findings justifying the rejection of Texas Tech's various contract theories. The court rejected Texas Tech's contention that CMS breached the demonstration agreement by failing to provide an appropriately matched control group; by refusing to allow Texas Tech to access relevant Medicare claims data; and by engaging RTI to evaluate whether differences between the intervention and control groups may have accounted for the apparent lack of cost savings. Finally, the court held that, although the Board did not expressly address two common law contract doctrines -- mistake and impracticability -- it did make findings that doom those two defenses. View "Texas Tech Physicians Assoc. v. US Department of Health and Human Services." on Justia Law

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Mathew worked at Parkland Health and Hospital System as a registration specialist and also owned Dallas Home Health Care (DHH). Mathew stole confidential patient information from Parkland and gave it to DHH employees to call the individuals and solicit them as patients. Based on information from a former DHH employee, authorities obtained a search warrant for DHH’s office and determined DHH to be in the possession of approximately 1,300 Parkland patients’ identifying information, including their health insurance claim numbers (HICNs). Mathew pleaded guilty to “knowingly possess[ing] with intent to use unlawfully or transfer unlawfully five or more authentication features, to wit, [HICNs], and the authentication features were or appeared to have been issued by or under the authority of the United States,” 18 U.S.C. 1028(a)(3), (b)(2)(B), (c)(1). The Fifth Circuit vacated his sentence of 30 months’ imprisonment plus $277,957.89 in restitution. The restitution order under the Mandatory Victim Restitution Act, 18 U.S.C. 3663A, was unlawful because it included amounts for Medicare payments that preceded the temporal scope of the offense of conviction. Mathew’s statements at rearraignment cannot serve as the justification for broadening restitution to include conduct not contained in the indictment or factual resume. The court rejected other challenges to the restitution award. View "United States v. Mathew" on Justia Law

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Provider Plaintiffs and Individual Plaintiffs filed suit seeking a preliminary injunction against the OIG's decision to terminate the Medicaid provider agreements to Planned Parenthood affiliates throughout the state. The district court held that the Individual Plaintiffs possessed a private right of action under the "qualified-provider" provision of the Medicaid Act and issued a preliminary injunction. The Fifth Circuit held that the district court erred in evaluating the evidence de novo, rather than under the arbitrary and capricious standard, and in applying the reasoning in Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast v. Gee, 862 F.3d 445 (5th Cir. 2017), to its determination of a "qualified" provider in this context. Therefore, the district court erred legally and plaintiffs were unlikely to show a likelihood of success on the merits of their claim. Accordingly, the court vacated the preliminary injunction and remanded for the district court to limit its review to the agency record under an arbitrary-and-capricious standard. View "Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas Family Planning and Preventative Health Services v. Smith" on Justia Law

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After Family Rehabilitation was assessed about $7.6 million for Medicare overpayments, it filed suit for an injunction against recoupment until it received an ALJ hearing. The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and remanded in regard to Family Rehabilitation's procedural due process and ultra vires claims. The court held that exhaustion of administrative review was waived because Family Rehabilitation asserted a collateral challenge that could not be remedied after the exhaustion of administrative review. In this case, Family Rehabilitation sought only the suspension of recoupment before a hearing, which was plainly collateral to the result of that hearing, and the combined threats of going out of business and disruption to Medicare patients were sufficient to show that it would suffer irreparable injury. The court affirmed in all other respects. View "Family Rehabilitation, Inc. v. Azar" on Justia Law

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After Family Rehabilitation was assessed about $7.6 million for Medicare overpayments, it filed suit for an injunction against recoupment until it received an ALJ hearing. The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and remanded in regard to Family Rehabilitation's procedural due process and ultra vires claims. The court held that exhaustion of administrative review was waived because Family Rehabilitation asserted a collateral challenge that could not be remedied after the exhaustion of administrative review. In this case, Family Rehabilitation sought only the suspension of recoupment before a hearing, which was plainly collateral to the result of that hearing, and the combined threats of going out of business and disruption to Medicare patients were sufficient to show that it would suffer irreparable injury. The court affirmed in all other respects. View "Family Rehabilitation, Inc. v. Azar" on Justia Law

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Legacy, a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), filed suit against the Commission, alleging that Texas's reimbursement scheme violated the Medicaid Act. The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Legacy, holding that the Commission's requirement that Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) fully reimburse FQHCs did not violate the Medicaid Act; Legacy lacked standing to challenge the Commission's lack of a policy that the state directly reimburse an FQHC if it is not fully reimbursed by the MCO; and Legacy was not entitled to reimbursement for the non-emergency, out-of-network services about which it complained. Accordingly, the court remanded with instructions. View "Legacy Community Health Services, Inc. v. Smith" on Justia Law

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Legacy, a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), filed suit against the Commission, alleging that Texas's reimbursement scheme violated the Medicaid Act. The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Legacy, holding that the Commission's requirement that Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) fully reimburse FQHCs did not violate the Medicaid Act; Legacy lacked standing to challenge the Commission's lack of a policy that the state directly reimburse an FQHC if it is not fully reimbursed by the MCO; and Legacy was not entitled to reimbursement for the non-emergency, out-of-network services about which it complained. Accordingly, the court remanded with instructions. View "Legacy Community Health Services, Inc. v. Smith" on Justia Law

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Seymour filed suit challenging DHHS's decision, founded on a manual that defined "primary roads" as numbered federal highways and defined "secondary roads" as non-primary roads, that it was not a critical access hospital. The district court granted summary judgment for DHHS. The court applied deference under Skidmore v. Swift & Co., and concluded that DHHS's approach was neither arbitrary nor unreasoned nor did it rely on irrelevant considerations in attempting to fulfill Congressional intent. In this case, the agency considered, among other things, more than a road's alphanumeric designation, and the agency's premise was that ordinarily, federal highways are likely to be bigger, better-maintained, and more well-traveled than state highways. DHHS's decision reflected the general conclusion that federal highways offer superior conditions than state highways. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Baylor County Hospital District v. Price" on Justia Law