Articles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

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After plaintiff's son was denied coverage related to gender reassignment services and surgery, plaintiff filed suit against Essentia and the health insurance plan's third party administrator for sex based discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA), and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Eighth Circuit held that plaintiff was not discriminated against on the basis of her own sex, and the protections of Title VII and the MHRA do not extend to discrimination based on her son's sex. Therefore, the court affirmed as to this issue. The court reversed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's ACA claim based on lack of Article III standing, holding that plaintiff has alleged an injury cognizable under Article III because she contends that defendants' discriminatory conduct denied her the benefits of her insurance policy and forced her to pay out of pocket for some of her son's prescribed medication. View "Tovar v. Essentia Health" on Justia Law

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Relator filed a qui tam action under the False Claims Act (FCA), 31 U.S.C. 3729-33, alleging that his former employer, AAKC, violated the FCA by submitting claims for Medicare reimbursement of anesthesia services at the “Medical Direction” rate. Relator alleged that, because AAKC anesthesiologists were not present in the operating room during patients’ “emergence” from anesthesia, and therefore AAKC did not comply with the Medicare conditions of payment for submitting such claims. The district court granted AAKC summary judgment. The court granted the United States leave to appear as amicus curiae supporting neither party. The court concluded that, because the agency had not clarified an obvious ambiguity in its Step Three regulation for decades, AAKC’s failure to obtain a legal opinion or prior CMS approval cannot support a finding of recklessness. The court also concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to consider a new theory first articulated in relator's summary judgment papers. Finally, the court rejected relator's claim that AAKC violated 42 C.F.R. 415.110(b). Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Donegan v. Anesthesia Assoc." on Justia Law

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SEARK, operator of two hospice-care facilities, voluntarily entered into a provider agreement with the Secretary of Health and Human Services to receive Medicare reimbursement pursuant to the Medicare Act, 42 U.S.C. 1395c, 1395f(a)(7), 1395cc. The Act annually caps Medicare reimbursement. SEARK filed suit after the Secretary sent it seven demands for repayment, arguing that the cap violates the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment. The district court concluded that SEARK’s voluntary participation in the Medicare program precludes a takings claim. The court concluded that SEARK has not met its burden to prove the demands for repayment based on the statutory cap are a taking where the reimbursement cap allocates the government's capacity to subsidize healthcare; SEARK presented no evidence to suggest the cap makes it impossible to profitably engage in their business; and SEARK voluntarily chose to participate in the Medicare hospice program. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Southeast Arkansas Hospice v. Burwell" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, six homecare providers, filed suit challenging Minnesota's Individual Providers of Direct Support Services Representation Act, Minn. Stat. 179A.54, 179A.06. The Act allows homecare providers for Medicaid program participants to unionize. The court concluded that the district court properly dismissed plaintiffs' Supremacy Clause claim because the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), 29 U.S.C. 152, does not preempt Minnesota's regulation of domestic service workers; plaintiffs' state preemption argument against the SEIU failed because even if the state laws conflict irreconcilably, the law passed most recently by the legislature controls and thus the Act trumps the older statute's definition of "employees;" the district court properly dismissed the providers' tortious interference claim against the state defendants because federal courts are unable to order state officials to conform their conduct to state law; and the district court properly dismissed plaintiffs' Contract Clause claims where plaintiffs did not have authority to negotiate compensation or benefits terms with program participants. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Greene v. Dayton" on Justia Law