Justia Health Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
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Plaintiff filed suit against the hospital, alleging that it violated the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) by failing to properly screen him and stabilize his condition. The Fourth Circuit adopted the requirement of a good faith admission and held that a party claiming an admission was not in good faith must present evidence that the hospital admitted the patient solely to satisfy its EMTALA standards with no intent to treat the patient once admitted and then immediately transferred the patient. The court held that plaintiff failed to point to evidence that creates a genuine issue of material fact as to this high standard. Furthermore, plaintiff failed to point to any evidence in support of his theory that the hospital admitted plaintiff to improperly hoard him in order to garner his premium insurance benefits. View "Williams v. Dimensions Health Corp." on Justia Law

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Advantage Health filed suit, alleging that HHS's continuing recoupment of overpayments before completion of the severely delayed administrative process was denying it procedural due process. The district court granted a preliminary injunction, enjoining HHS from withholding Medicare payments to Advantage Health to effectuate recoupment of any alleged overpayments. The Fourth Circuit held that the injunction entered in this collateral proceeding, which prohibits HHS from recouping overpayments in accordance with applicable law, was inappropriately entered because the delay of which Advantage Health complains could have been and still can be avoided by bypassing an ALJ hearing and obtaining judicial review on a relatively expeditious basis, as Congress has provided. Therefore, this administrative review process did not deny Advantage Health procedural due process and thus Advantage Health has not demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits. View "Accident, Injury and Rehabilitation, PC v. Azar" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit challenging South Carolina's decision to terminate PPSAT's provider agreement because it offers abortion services. At issue was whether, and on what basis, the Medicaid Act's free-choice-of-provider provision affords a private right of action to challenge a state’s exclusion of a healthcare provider from its Medicaid roster. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of a preliminary injunction in favor of plaintiff and held that Congress's intent to create an individual right enforceable under 42 U.S.C. 1983 in the free-choice-provider provision is unambiguous. The court also held that a plain-language reading of the provision's mandate—that states "must" furnish Medicaid recipients the right to choose among providers "qualified to perform the service or services required"—bars states from excluding providers for reasons unrelated to professional competency. Because the individual plaintiff in this case has a private right of action to challenge South Carolina's denial of her right to the qualified and willing family-planning provider of her choice, the court agreed with the district court that she has demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success on her free-choice-of-provider claim. Furthermore, the district court did not abuse its discretion in enjoining South Carolina from terminating PPSAT's provider agreement; it was clear that plaintiff would suffer irreparable harm in the absence of a preliminary injunction; and the remaining preliminary injunction factors were satisfied. View "Planned Parenthood South Atlantic v. Baker" on Justia Law

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The Secretary appealed the district court's order enjoining him from enforcing a Medicaid policy set forth in a Frequently Asked Questions document (FAQ 33), which purported to clarify the methodology for calculating the maximum amount of financial assistance available to hospitals, like Children's Hospital, that serve a disproportionate number of low-income or special needs patients (DSHs). The Fourth Circuit held that the district court correctly determined that the policy set forth in FAQ 33 constituted a "legislative rule" and thus the Administrative Procedure Act mandated that the agency establish the FAQ 33 policy through notice-and-comment rulemaking. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's judgment enjoining the Secretary from enforcing the policy set forth in FAQ 33 against Children's Hospital. The court declined to reach the substantive challenge and vacated the part of the district court's opinion addressing whether the policy conflicts with the language of 42 U.S.C. 1396r-4(g). View "Children's Hospital v. Azar" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against GBMC, seeking to recover funds to Medicare and to collect for herself under the Medicare Secondary Payer Act, 42 U.S.C. 1395y, which authorizes a private cause of action for double damages where a recalcitrant payer "fails" to reimburse Medicare. Sixteen days after plaintiff filed the federal suit, GBMC paid her $403,722.24, which represented the amended final judgment amount plus post-judgment interest. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of GBMC's motion for summary judgment, holding that, although plaintiff was injured when GBMC was obligated under law to pay for her medical care but did not, GBMC did not fail to reimburse plaintiff because its payment was well within plaintiff's proposed deadline. View "Netro v. Greater Baltimore Medical Center, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 2017, Maryland enacted “An Act concerning Public Health – Essential Off-Patent or Generic Drugs – Price Gouging – Prohibition.” The Act, Md. Code, Health–General 2-802(a), prohibits manufacturers or wholesale distributors from “engag[ing] in price gouging in the sale of an essential off-patent or generic drug,” defines “price gouging” as “an unconscionable increase in the price of a prescription drug,” and “unconscionable increase” as “excessive and not justified by the cost of producing the drug or the cost of appropriate expansion of access to the drug to promote public health” that results in consumers having no meaningful choice about whether to purchase the drug at an excessive price due to the drug’s importance to their health and insufficient competition. The “essential” medications are “made available for sale in [Maryland]” and either appear on the Model List of Essential Medicines most recently adopted by the World Health Organization or are “designated . . . as an essential medicine due to [their] efficacy in treating a life-threatening health condition or a chronic health condition that substantially impairs an individual’s ability to engage in activities of daily living.” The Fourth Circuit reversed the dismissal of a “dormant commerce clause” challenge to the Act, finding that it directly regulates the price of transactions that occur outside Maryland. View "Association for Accessible Medicine v. Frosh" on Justia Law