Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

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Hospitals challenged the method the Secretary used to calculate the volume-decrease adjustment (VDA) for certain fiscal years during the mid-2000s, as well as the Administrator's classification of certain costs as variable costs when calculating the adjustment. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision to uphold the Secretary's actions and held that the Secretary's interpretation of the relevant regulations was a reasonable interpretation of the plain language of the Medicare statute. Given the lack of guidance in the statute and the substantial deference the court affords to the agency, the Secretary's decision reasonably complied with the mandate to provide full compensation. That the Secretary has prospectively adopted a new interpretation was not a sufficient reason to find the Secretary's prior interpretation arbitrary or capricious. The court also held that the Secretary's interpretation of the relevant regulations in these cases was clearly consistent with their text, and the costs at issue were reasonably classified as variable costs. View "Unity HealthCare v. Azar" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's partial grant of summary judgment for Children's Hospitals and decision to vacate a Medicaid policy, Frequently Asked Question 33, which explained how to calculate a hospital's uncompensated medical care costs. The court held that by imposing new reporting requirements for private insurance payments, Question 33 expanded the footprint of 42 C.F.R. 447.299 and thus constituted a substantive change in the regulation. The court explained that section 447.299 has specific language explicitly stating what payments must be deducted from each hospital's "total cost of care," and the Secretary's own definition of "uncompensated care costs" did not include private insurance payments. The court declined to read substantive changes into the regulation under the guise of interpretation. Furthermore, the court joined the First and Fourth Circuits in concluding that Question 33 was a legislative rule that was not adopted in accordance with the procedure required by law and thus must be set aside, notwithstanding the Secretary's policy arguments to the contrary. View "Children's Health Care v. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services" on Justia Law

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The 2013 Public Employment Labor Relations Act (PELRA) did not infringe on the First Amendment rights of a group of parents who provide home care services to their disabled children. PELRA applied to persons who provide in-home care to disabled Medicaid recipients, and authorized covered employees to organize and to designate by majority vote an exclusive representative to negotiate employment terms with the state. The parents complained that the Act unconstitutionally compelled them to associate with the exclusive negotiating representative. Determining that the parents had Article III standing, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment and held that, under Minnesota State Board for Community Colleges v. Knight, the current version of PELRA allowed the homecare providers to form their own advocacy groups independent of the exclusive representative, and it did not require any provider to join the union. Therefore, the state did not impinge on the parents' right not to associate by recognizing an exclusive negotiating representative. View "Bierman v. Dayton" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit granted Bussen's petition for review of the MSHA's issuance of a citation to Bussen. In this case, the Secretary claimed that Bussen violated federal regulation 30 C.F.R. 56.15005, which requires the use of certain fall-protection equipment at surface metal and nonmetal mines when working where there is a danger of falling. The court held that there was no evidence to support a conclusion that any miner approached the highwall edge when moving the pump cart or were otherwise working without safety belts and lines where there was a danger of falling. Therefore, substantial evidence did not support the ALJ's finding that Bussen violated section 56.15005. View "Bussen Quarries, Inc. v. Acosta" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of judgment on the pleadings to the Med and Avectus in a class action suit alleging that both federal and Arkansas Medicaid laws prohibited the Med from directly billing Medicaid beneficiaries. The court held that federal law did not bar the Med from attempting recovery from plaintiff or a liable third party because the Med had opted not to bill and to accept payment from Arkansas Medicaid. The court also held that, like the federal provisions, the Arkansas Medicaid statutes do not prohibit a medical provider from foregoing Medicaid’s guaranteed payment for covered services and opting instead to bill the patient or liable third parties directly. View "Robinett v. Shelby County Healthcare Corp." on Justia Law

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Act 900, Arkansas Code Annotated 17-92-507, an amendment to the state's then-existing maximum allowable cost (MAC) law that governed the conduct of pharmacy benefits managers, was preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and Medicare Part D statutes. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's ERISA ruling in this case, but reversed the Medicare Part D ruling. The court remanded for entry of judgment for PCMA. View "Pharmaceutical Care Management v. Rutledge" on Justia Law