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Cape Cod Hospital v. Leavitt

July 21, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth


This matter comes before the Court on defendant's Motion [15] to Dismiss and Remand, plaintiffs' Motion [16] for Summary Judgment, and defendant's Motion [19] to Stay Proceedings on plaintiffs' motion. Upon full consideration of the motions, the opposition and reply briefs, the entire record herein, and applicable law, defendant's motion [15] will be GRANTED for the reasons set forth below, rendering plaintiffs' motion [16] and defendant's motion [19] moot.


Plaintiff hospitals come before this Court seeking injunctive and declaratory relief in an action for review of rates for inpatient hospital services for federal fiscal years 2007 and 2008 paid under the Medicare prospective payment system ("PPS") by defendant, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (Compl. ¶ 1.) The Medicare statute requires that adjustments be made to payment rates in order to ensure budget neutrality between urban and rural hospitals. (Id.) Congress established a "rural floor" to redistribute Medicare payments among hospitals but required that it have a budget neutral effect so "that the aggregate payments made . . . are not greater or less than those which would have been made" absent the rural floor. (Compl. ¶ 3); See Balanced Budget Act of 1997, § 4410(b), Pub. L. No. 105-33 ("BBA"), 42 U.S.C. § 1395ww note. In other words, Congress intended to "adjust the relative size of each hospital's 'slice' of the reimbursement 'pie' . . . without changing the size of the pie itself." (Compl. ¶ 3.)

Plaintiffs, challenging defendant's method of calculating the budget neutrality adjustment, appealed defendant's determinations of Medicare payment rates for federal fiscal years 2007 and 2008 to the Secretary's Provider Reimbursement Review Board ("PRRB" or "Board"). (Id. ¶¶ 5, 7, 10.) Both times, plaintiffs asked the Board to determine that it lacks authority to decide the legality of defendant's implementation of the rural floor budget adjustments. (Id. ¶ 10.) Instead, the Board concluded that the applicable statute and implementing regulations preclude review, Board or judicial, of defendant relating to budget neutrality calculations, thereby disclaiming jurisdiction and avoiding the merits of plaintiffs' appeals entirely. (Id.)

Defendant now concedes that the Board's determinations were erroneous and asks that the Court dismiss and remand the case to PRRB so the Board may conduct administrative proceedings on the merits. (Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss and Remand ¶ 2.) Plaintiffs countered by filing a cross-motion for summary judgment, asserting that this Court has jurisdiction under the expedited judicial review ("EJR") provisions of the Medicare Act to consider the merits of plaintiffs' claims. (Compl. ¶ 11); See 42 U.S.C. § 1395oo(f)(1). Defendant then filed a motion to stay proceedings on plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment pending this Court's decision on defendant's motion to dismiss and remand.


A. Legal Standard

1. Motion to Dismiss

Defendant moves to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. When a party files a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1), "the plaintiffs bear the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the Court has subject matter jurisdiction." Biton v. Palestinian Interim Self-Gov't Auth., 310 F. Supp. 2d 172, 176 (D.D.C. 2004); see McNutt v. Gen. Motors Acceptance Corp. of Ind., 298 U.S. 178, 189 (1936) (indicating that plaintiffs have the burden of establishing jurisdiction). A court considering a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction must construe plaintiffs' complaint in plaintiffs' favor, accepting all inferences that can be derived from the facts alleged. Jerome Stevens Pharms., Inc. v. FDA, 402 F.3d 1249, 1253 (D.C. Cir. 2005). Additionally, when assessing a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1), a court may also consider any undisputed facts in the record, or "the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts plus the court's resolution of disputed facts." Herbert v. Nat'l Acad. of Sciences, 974 F.2d 192, 197 (D.C. Cir. 1992).

2. Medicare Statutory Exhaustion Requirements

"Federal subject matter jurisdiction over claims arising under the Medicare Act is permitted only upon the completion of the administrative process outlined in that statute and its implementing regulations." Three Lower Counties Cmty. Health Servs. v. U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Servs., 517 F. Supp. 2d 431, 435 (D.D.C. 2007) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), (h)). Indeed, this Circuit has stated:

"No action against the United States, the [Secretary of Health and Human Services], or any officer or employee thereof shall be brought under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 . . . to recover on any claim arising under" the Medicare Act. 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(h), 1395ii. Judicial review may be had only after the claim has been presented to the Secretary and administrative remedies have been exhausted. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g), (h), 1395w-22(g)(5); Shalala v. Ill. Council on Long Term Care, Inc., 529 U.S. 1, 8--9 (2000). This bar against § 1331 actions applies to all claims that have their "standing and substantive basis" in the Medicare Act.

Am. Chiropractic Ass'n v. Leavitt, 431 F.3d 812, 86 (D.C. Cir. 2005) (citations omitted); see also Weinberger v. Salfi, 422 U.S. 749, 765 (1975) (stating that "[e]xhaustion is generally required as a matter of preventing premature interference with agency processes, so that the agency may function efficiently and so that it may have the opportunity to correct its own errors, to afford the parties and the courts the benefit of its experience and expertise, and to compile a record which is adequate for judicial review"). Even if the administrative process is ...

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