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Tuba City Reg'l Health Care Corp. v. United States

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

April 25, 2014

TUBA CITY REGIONAL HEALTH CARE CORPORATION, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA et al., Defendants

Re Document Nos.: 18, 24.

For TUBA CITY REGIONAL HEALTH CARE CORPORATION, Plaintiff: Geoffrey D. Strommer, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, HOBBS, STRAUS, DEAN & WALKER, LLP, Portland, OR; R. Gehl Tucker, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, HUFFORD, HORSTMAN, MONGINI, PARNELL & TUCKER, Flagstaff, AZ; Jerry Charles Straus, Caroline P. Mayhew, HOBBS STRAUS DEAN & WALKER, LLP, Washington, DC.

For UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, in her official capacity as Secretary, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, YVETTE ROUBIDEAUX, in her official capacity as Director, Indian Health Service, Defendants: Alexander Daniel Shoaibi, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Civil Division, Washington, DC.

Page 67

MEMORANDUM OPINION

RUDOLPH CONTRERAS, United States District Judge.

Denying Defendants' Motion to Dismiss; and Finding as Moot Plaintiff's Motion for Referral to Magistrate

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff brought this action pursuant to the Contract Disputes Act of 1978, 41 U.S.C. § § 7101-09 (" CDA" ). The Government moved to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), arguing that there was neither an actual nor a deemed final decision by the contracting officer when the complaint was filed. For the reasons that follow, the Court will deny the Government's motion.

II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The claims in this case arise from a long-standing dispute between the Indian

Page 68

Health Service (" IHS" ) and the tribal healthcare providers who contract and compact with that agency to carry out its responsibility to provide health services to American Indians and Alaska Natives. These providers enter into contracts with the IHS pursuant to the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, 25 U.S.C. § § 450-58 (" ISDEAA" ). The tribal healthcare providers can receive two types of funding in these contracts. The first is the " secretarial amount," which is the amount that the IHS would have otherwise provided for the operation of the programs if they were run by the government. See id. § 450j-1(a)(1). The IHS also covers " contract support costs," which compensate for administrative and compliance costs. See id. § 450j-1(a)(2).

For many years, the IHS underpaid Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation (" TCRHCC" ) and other tribal contractors for their contract support costs. See Cherokee Nation of Okla. v. Leavitt, 543 U.S. 631, 636, 125 S.Ct. 1172, 161 L.Ed.2d 66 (2005). The Supreme Court held that the government's promises to pay these costs were legally binding. See id. at 634. More recently, the Supreme Court held that legislative spending caps on aggregate contract support costs limited the aggregate amount the IHS could pay, but any contractor not paid in full could nonetheless recover damages from the Judgment Fund, 31 U.S.C. § 1304, in contract claims. See Salazar v. Ramah Navajo Chapter, 132 S.Ct. 2181, 2193-94, 183 L.Ed.2d 186 (2012).

On September 17, 2012, TCRHCC sent a letter to IHS contracting officer Frank Dayish detailing underpayments and damages for fiscal year 2006 and explaining the theories on which those damages were premised. See Defs.' Mot. Dismiss Ex. 1, ECF No. 18-2. On November 5, 2012, TCRHCC sent five more letters to Dayish, detailing its claims for underpayment and damages for fiscal years 2007-2011. See id. Each letter contained a signed certification as required by the CDA. See id. The total dollar amount ...


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