The opinion of the court was delivered by: GASCH
Plaintiffs in this action challenge various aspects of the District of Columbia Medicaid Plan relating to podiatric services. The matter is before the Court at this juncture on the litigants' cross-motions for summary judgment.
Title XIX of the Social Security Act (Medicaid)
provides for a federal program of medical assistance to individuals whose economic resources are insufficient to meet the cost of necessary medical services. It is a grant-in-aid project providing matching federal monies to participating states. The funds are channeled through an appropriate state agency to providers of medical services. Participation by a state is voluntary, but in order to receive federal funds, the state's program must meet certain federal requirements.
The District of Columbia elected to participate and commenced its Medicaid Program as of July 1, 1968. From time to time the District of Columbia Medicaid Plan (D.C. Plan) was amended. All D.C. Plans have been approved by the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) pursuant to the requirements of Title XIX.
In relevant part, the most recent D.C. Plan (effective January 1, 1974) contains a "Schedule of Authorized Procedures and Relative Value Scale for Participating Podiatrists." This schedule specifies the podiatric services which are compensable under the D.C. Plan and the amount of such compensation.
The plaintiffs present three challenges to these provisions of the D.C. Plan.
First, they allege that the podiatrists participating in the District of Columbia Medicaid Program are entitled by federal statute and regulations to be compensated under Medicaid for all services they may legally perform as licensed podiatrists, rather than just those services specified in the D.C. Plan. Second, they argue that the defendants in setting fees for podiatrists under the D.C. Plan have failed to comply with the requirements of the Medicaid statute and regulations.
Third, plaintiffs in their motion for summary judgment have challenged the constitutionality of the Medicaid statute and have requested the Court to convene a three-judge court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 2282 and 2284.
Plaintiffs have sought declaratory and injunctive relief against the defendants' enforcement of the complained of provisions of the D.C. Plan.
Having considered the pleadings and oral argument of the parties, the Court has determined that the actions of the defendants do not violate the provisions of the Medicaid statute or regulations. Furthermore, the Court has determined that plaintiffs' constitutional challenge is inappropriate and without merit.
THE "SCOPE OF SERVICES" ISSUE
6) medical care, or any other type of remedial care recognized under State law, furnished by licensed practitioners within the scope of their practice as defined by State law.10
The D.C. Plan includes this class of health services; it is undisputed that podiatric care falls within this classification. Podiatric care as defined by District of Columbia law is:
the surgical, medical, or mechanical treatment of any ailment of the human foot, except the amputation of the foot or any of the toes; and, also, except the use of an anesthetic other than a local one.
Plaintiffs contend that once defendants elected to include the optional services in the D.C. Plan, they were required to do so to the full extent that such services are defined by District of Columbia law. This, it is conceded by defendants, has not been done. Plaintiffs' position is that any valid limitation on the broad language of the statute must be express. They point to the provision of § 1396d(g)(2) which restricts the scope of chiropractic services compensable under Medicaid. They contend that since there is no comparable provision in the statute or regulations permitting or requiring a limitation on podiatric services, defendants' actions are unlawful.
Plaintiffs' argument fails because of the invalidity of its basic premise that the broad language of the statute was meant to curtail the discretion of the states in devising their Medicaid Plans. Rather, the provisions of Title XIX provide for a "scheme of cooperative federalism."
A reading of Title XIX clearly indicates the intent of Congress to give the states considerable discretion and latitude in devising their Medicaid Plans. Thus, federal funds are appropriated under Title XIX "[for] the purpose of enabling each State, as far as practicable under the conditions in such State," to furnish medical assistance and services.
States can choose whether to participate at all; a participating state can choose to include in its plan only the "categorically needy,"
or it can also include the "medically needy";
a participating state is free to choose which, if any, of the ...