Justia Health Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
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Defendants Kim Reynolds, Governor of Iowa, and Ann Lebo, Director of the Iowa Department of Education, appealed the district court’s entry of a preliminary injunction completely barring enforcement of Iowa’s facial covering statute, Code Section 280.31. The Eighth Circuit vacated the district court’s entry of preliminary injunction completely barring enforcement of Iowa Code Section 280.31 as moot.   The court reasoned that the issue surrounding the preliminary injunction is moot because the current conditions differ vastly from those prevailing when the district court addressed it. The court reasoned that COVID-19 vaccines are now available to children and adolescents over the age of four, greatly decreasing Plaintiffs’ children’s risk of serious bodily injury or death from contracting COVID-19 at school. Further, when Plaintiffs sought a preliminary injunction, delta was the dominant variant, producing high transmission rates and caseloads throughout the country. Now, omicron has become dominant and subsided, leaving markedly lower transmission rates and caseloads throughout Iowa and the country. The court noted that to the extent that the case continues, the Court emphasized that the parties and district court should pay particular attention to Section 280.31’s exception for “any other provision of law.” Iowa Code Section 280.31. This exception unambiguously states that Section 280.31 does not apply where “any other provision of law” requires masks. The word "any” makes the term “provision of law” a broad category that does not distinguish between state or federal law. View "The Arc of Iowa v. Kimberly Reynolds" on Justia Law

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Under Michigan abortion law, a minor may bypass the parental-consent requirement by obtaining a court order granting the right to self-consent (for mature minors) or judicial consent (for “best interests” minors). When the plaintiff sought to apply for judicial bypass, the defendant hadn’t heard of the process and told the plaintiff to come back later. Plaintiff sued the defendant in her individual and official capacities under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that defendant’s refusal to allow her to apply for a judicial bypass without parental notification violated her Fourteenth Amendment rights. The district court denied the motion when the defendant moved for summary judgment, invoking quasi-judicial and qualified immunity.Before the Eighth Circuit, the defendant claimed she acted at the direction of the Associate Circuit Judge (“Judge”). The Judge testified that he did not recall telling the defendant not to accept the application without parental consent. The circuit court concluded there was a genuine issue of material fact regarding the Judge’s practice of giving pre-filing directions. Further, the is a clearly established right to apply for a judicial bypass. Thus the circuit court declined to address the defendant’s other arguments regarding qualified immunity. View "Jane Doe v. Michelle Chapman" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of Regional's declaratory judgment claims alleging that defendants' procedures in suspending Regional's Medicare payments and forcing it out of business without notice, a hearing, or an opportunity to appeal violated its Fifth Amendment rights to procedural and substantive due process. The court concluded that no actual controversy exists between Regional and defendants within the meaning of the Declaratory Judgment Act. The court explained that, having abandoned any claim for damages, Regional seeks nothing more than a judicial pronouncement that its constitutional rights were violated. Therefore, the possibility of Regional re-establishing a business that is certified to receive Medicare reimbursements, again submitting documentation insufficient to meet Medicare requirements for billed services, and again having Medicare payments suspended is too conjectural or hypothetical to pose a real and immediate threat of injury sufficient to confer subject matter jurisdiction in federal court. View "Regional Home Health Care, Inc. v. Becerra" on Justia Law

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The Hospitals filed suit to enjoin the OPTN's new policy, which significantly changes the method for allocating donated kidneys to kidney transplant patients, as unlawful under the Transplant Act and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of the Hospitals' motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. Examining the district court's balancing of the Dataphase factors, the court concluded that the district court did not err in concluding that the Hospitals failed to show that their procedural APA claim is likely to succeed on the merits. The court also agreed with the district court that the Hospitals failed to demonstrate that they are likely to succeed on the merits of their claim that adoption of the Fixed Circle Policy was arbitrary and capricious agency action. Furthermore, the district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that the Hospitals' one-year delay refuted their allegations of irreparable harm, and the balance of the equities and public interest weigh in favor of denying the requested preliminary injunction. View "Adventist Health System v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of HHS and CMS in an action brought by Northport, alleging that a regulation promulgated by CMS through notice and comment rulemaking is unlawful and should be set aside for violating the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), and the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA). The revised HHS regulations (Revised Rule) prohibits long-term care facilities from conditioning the admission of Medicare and Medicaid residents on their agreement to pre-dispute, binding arbitration and gives the residents the right to rescind the binding arbitration agreements, as well as certain other rights.The court concluded that the Revised Rule does not, in words or effect, render arbitration agreements entered into in violation thereof invalid or unenforceable, and thus it does not conflict with the FAA. Furthermore, the Revised Rule represents a reasonable accommodation of manifestly competing interests and is entitled to deference, and thus the district court properly concluded that it is not ultra vires. The court also concluded that the Revised Rule reflects CMS's reasoned judgment in light of competing considerations, and is not arbitrary or capricious. Finally, although CMS failed to provide a factual basis in support of its section 605(b) certification in the Revised Rule, the court concluded that failing to do so was harmless error. View "Northport Health Services of Arkansas, LLC v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services" on Justia Law

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After a Tessier's employee was modifying a hole cover on the roof of an unfinished building when the cover collapsed and he fell 22 feet to the floor below, OSHA issued a citation against Tessier's under 29 C.F.R. 1926.501(b)(4)(i), for failing to protect its employees from falling through holes.The Eighth Circuit denied the petition for review filed by Tessier's, concluding that substantial evidence supported the ALJ's conclusion that the employees had removed a one-foot-by-three-foot section of the cover before it collapsed and, in doing so, exposed a hole. Because this hole was not covered and was more than six feet above the second floor, Tessier's was required to protect its employees from falling by means of an alternative form of fall protection, which it had not done. Therefore, the ALJ did not err in concluding that Tessier's had committed the violation. View "Tessier's, Inc. v. Secretary of Labor" on Justia Law

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PCMA filed suit claiming that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (Medicare Part D), preempt two sections of the North Dakota Century Code regulating the relationship between pharmacies, pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs), and other third parties that finance personal health services. The district court determined that only one provision in the legislation was preempted by Medicare Part D and entered judgment in favor of North Dakota on the remainder of PCMA's claims.The Eighth Circuit held that it need not address the "connection with" element of the analysis because the legislation is preempted due to its impermissible "reference to" ERISA plans. In this case, the legislation is preempted because its references to "third-party payers" and "plan sponsors" impermissibly relate to ERISA benefit plans. Therefore, the court held that the North Dakota legislation is preempted because it "relates to" ERISA plans "by regulating the conduct of PBMs administering or managing pharmacy benefits." Finally, the court held that North Dakota waived its savings clause argument. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. View "Pharmaceutical Care Management Ass'n v. Tufte" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit granted a writ of mandamus in part and directed the district court to dissolve a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) enjoining the State from enforcing a COVID-19-related health directive against a provider of surgical abortions. The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) issued a directive requiring that all non-medically necessary surgeries be postponed in response to Executive Order 20-03, directing the ADH to do everything reasonably possible to respond to and recover from the COVID-19 virus.After adopting the Fifth Circuit's reasoning in In re Abbott, No. 20-50264, 2020 WL 1685929 (5th Cir. April 7, 2020), the court held that the State is entitled to mandamus relief because it has satisfied its burden in demonstrating that it has no other means to obtain the relief that it seeks, the State is clearly and indisputably entitled to the writ, and entry of the writ is appropriate under the circumstances.In Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (1905), the Supreme Court held that, when faced with a public health crisis, a state may implement measures that infringe on constitutional rights, subject to certain limitations. The court found that the district court's failure to apply the Jacobson framework produced a patently erroneous result. In this case, the directive bears a real and substantial relation to the State's interest in protecting public health in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic; the directive is not, beyond all question, a prohibition of pre-viability abortion in violation of the Constitution because it is a delay, not a ban, and contains emergency exceptions; and the district court clearly abused its discretion in finding that the provider is likely to prevail on its argument that the directive will likely operate as a substantial obstacle to a woman's choice to undergo an abortion in a large fraction of the cases in which the directive is relevant. The court declined to exercise its mandamus power to direct the district court to dismiss the supplemental complaint, and denied the emergency motion to stay the ex parte TRO and for a temporary administrative stay as moot. View "In Re: Leslie Rutledge" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, health care providers and their patients, filed suit against Iowa's Department of Public Health and its Health Facilities Council, alleging that Iowa's Certificate of Need laws violate the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process, Equal Protection, and Privileges and Immunities Clauses.The Eighth Circuit held that plaintiffs' Privileges and Immunities Clause claim was foreclosed by the Slaughter-Houses cases. Applying rational basis review to the Certificate of Need (CON) regime and capital expenditures exemption, the court held that Iowa's CON requirement is rationally related to a legitimate state interest in full-service hospital viability. Furthermore, Iowa's decision to exempt competitors who are non-hospital CON-holders is rationally related to its interest in protecting the viability of full-service hospitals. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's orders dismissing plaintiffs' Privileges and Immunities claim and granting summary judgment in favor of the state defendants on the remaining claims. View "Birchansky v. Clabaugh" on Justia Law

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Mo. Rev. Stat. Section 191.227.1 permits health care providers to charge patients who request their medical records a "search" fee when there are no responsive medical records to be found. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the action and dismissed movants' appeal of the denial of their motion to intervene as moot. The court rejected plaintiff's claim that CIOX's practice of charging a fee for unsuccessful records searches violated the Missouri statute. View "Graham v. CIOX Health, LLC" on Justia Law