Justia Health Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Iowa Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment for Defendants on Plaintiffs' medical malpractice claims, holding that Plaintiffs failed to set forth specific facts showing a prima facie case of causation and lost chance of survival. Sharon Susie lost her right arm and eight of her toes due to a disorder known as necrotizing fasciitis. Sharon and her husband (together, Plaintiffs) filed a negligence claim against Defendants seeking damages for the amputation of Sharon's arm and other injuries. Plaintiffs alleged that Defendants were negligent because Sharon's condition was not properly diagnosed and treatment was not timely commenced and that Defendants' actions resulted in the lost chance to save Sharon's arm and toes from amputation. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that summary judgment was properly granted because Plaintiffs failed to set forth specific facts showing a prima facie case of causation and lost chance of survival. View "Susie v. Family Health Care of Siouxland, P.L.C." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of a "senior adult congregate living facility" on Plaintiff's complaint alleging that the facility would not return her mother's entrance fee or supplemental amount when her mother had to vacate the facility for health reasons, holding that the district court properly granted summary judgment in favor of the facility. In her complaint, Plaintiff, on behalf of her mother, argued that the agreement between her mother and the facility violated the Iowa Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (IURLTA), Iowa Code chapter 562A, and alleged several other claims, including consumer fraud, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, breach of fiduciary duty, and unconscionability. The district court held that the IURLA did not apply to the facility and that the facility was entitled to judgment as a matter of law on the remaining claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the fees regulated under Iowa Code chapter 523D are not subject to the IURLTA; and (2) the district court did not err in granting summary judgment on Plaintiff's remaining claims. View "Albaugh v. The Reserve" on Justia Law

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In this intrafamily dispute regarding farmland the Supreme Court affirmed the rulings of the district court denying substitute petitioners' petition for relief from elder abuse specifically seeking relief for the loss associated with certain real estate transactions, holding that the substitute petitioners failed to prove that their father was a vulnerable elder at the time of the challenged transactions. The substitute petitioners for their father filed this petition pursuant to Iowa Code 235F alleging that their brother and his son committed elder abuse against their father by unduly influencing the father to enter into below-mark-rate lease agreements to farm the father's land, to gift some of the land to the brother and his son, and to write a new will to reflect the gifted land. The district court concluded that the substitute petitioners failed to establish that their father was a "vulnerable elder" subject to "financial exploitation" within the meaning of chapter 235F. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the substitute petitioners filed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that their father was vulnerable elder at the time of the challenged transactions. View "Struve v. Struve" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court affirming the position of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) determining that transfers made by Petitioners, nursing home residents, to a pooled special needs trust were for less than fair market value and required a delay in Petitioners’ eligibility for Medicaid benefits, holding that the district court and DHS correctly construed and applied federal law requiring the delay in Medicaid benefits for long-term institutional care. Federal eligibility requirements provide that state ensure that Medicaid benefits are reserved for persons who lack financial means and have not transferred personal asserts that could pay for their care. Petitioners, at age sixty-five, transferred more than one-half million dollars to a pooled special needs trust. The Supreme Court held that the district court and DHS properly interpreted federal law effectively requiring Petitioner’s to tap their pooled trust assets first to pay for their nursing home care. View "Cox v. Iowa Department of Human Services" on Justia Law

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Jeffrey Anderson challenged a district court order placing him in a transitional release program at the Civil Commitment Unit for Sexual Offenders (CCUSO) as a violation of his due process rights. After a jury determined that Anderson was a sexually violent predator, Anderson was civilly committed to CCUSO under the Sexually Violent Predators Act. Anderson was later granted release with supervision but violated the terms of his release-with-supervision plan. The district court revoked Anderson’s release-with-supervision status and ordered him placed at a transitional release program housed at CCUSO. It was this order that Anderson challenged on appeal. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the order revoking Anderson’s release-with-supervision status and placing him at the transitional release program at CCUSO did not violate his substantive or procedural due process rights under either the Iowa Constitution or the United States Constitution. View "In re Detention of Jeffrey Anderson" on Justia Law

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On December 8, after a hearing, a judicial hospitalization referee entered an order finding M.W. seriously mentally impaired and ordered M.W. involuntarily hospitalized. M.W. appealed the denial of his motion to continue the hearing. On December 9, the district court entered a ruling determining that the referee did not abuse her discretion in denying M.W.’s motion to continue and noted that M.W. had the right to challenge all of the rulings of the referee at a de novo hearing before the district court. Thereafter, M.W. was released from involuntary hospitalization. The district court thus dismissed the case. M.W. appealed the December 8 referee order and the December 9 district court order. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that neither the referee’s order issued on December 8 nor the district court’s order issued on December 9 were appealable as a matter of right. View "In re M.W." on Justia Law

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Several Iowa chiropractors brought this class-action lawsuit against Wellmark, Inc., Iowa’s largest health insurer, alleging that it conspired with competitors to fix prices, allocate markets, and engage in other anticompetitive conduct in violation of the Iowa Competition Law. The district court stayed the case pending further proceedings in federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) in Alabama brought under federal antitrust laws. The Supreme Court vacated the order staying this action, holding that the district court abused its discretion in staying the Iowa litigation pending further proceedings in the Alabama MDL because (1) resolution of the Alabama MDL could take years, and (2) there are considerable differences in the issues the two cases present. Remanded. View "Chicoine v. Wellmark, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 1986, the Iowa legislature enacted House File 2219 to provide for payment by healthcare service corporations for services performed by chiropractors. Following the Supreme Court’s decision in Mueller v. Wellmark, several Iowa-licensed chiropractors (collectively, Appellants) brought this action alleging that Wellmark, Inc. wrongfully imposes restrictions and pays lower rates for chiropractic services than for equivalent services offered by medical and osteopathic doctors in violation of Iowa Code 514F.2. The Insurance Commissioner concluded that section 514F.2 does not require health insurers to compensate the chiropractors equally with medical and osteopathic doctors in network. The district court affirmed the Commissioner’s decision. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the interpretation of section 514F.2 has not been clearly vested by a provision of law in the discretion of the Commissioner; (2) the statute regulates payments to providers; (3) Wellmark’s fees for chiropractic care are not based solely on licensure; and (4) ERISA preempts the application of section 514F.2 to self-funded health plans. View "Abbas v. Iowa Insurance Division" on Justia Law

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This petition for injunctive relief and writ of mandamus challenged the Governor’s item veto of appropriations intended to fund the Mount Pleasant and Clarinda Mental Health Institutes. The AFSCME Iowa Council 61 president and twenty state legislators brought suit against the Governor, alleging that the Iowa Code mandates the existence of the Mount Pleasant and Clarinda Mental Health Institutes and their continued operation. The district court granted summary judgment to the Governor and dismissed the petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the appeal was timely, and the issue of the Governor’s veto was not moot; and (2) the Governor’s exercise of his item veto of appropriations for the mental health institutes at issue did not exceed the scope of his constitutional authority. View "Homan v. Branstad" on Justia Law

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In response to a 2009 executive order announcing a ten percent reduction in state departments and agencies for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2010, the Iowa Department of Human Services (IDHS) promulgated temporary rules adjusting the reimbursement rates paid to Medicaid service providers. Thereafter, the legislature passed a law directing IDHS to continue for the next fiscal year the rate reductions as specified under the 2009 executive order. Accordingly, IDHS promulgated permanent rules implementing certain rate reductions. IDHS, however, inadvertently omitted a reduction for one component of the rate calculation for certain Medicaid service providers. Nevertheless, IDHS continued to reimburse those service providers at the reduced rates established under the temporary rules. In an administrative proceeding, Plaintiffs, several providers, challenged the rate calculation, arguing that, even if the “missing” rule was an oversight, IDHS could not reimburse them at the reduced rate without a rule authorizing it to do so. An administrative law judge granted summary judgment for IDHS, and the decision was affirmed on review. The district court reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the statute provides sufficient authority for IDHS to reimburse service providers at the reduced rates without a rule authorizing it to do so. View "Exceptional Persons, Inc. v. Iowa Dep’t of Human Servs." on Justia Law