United States District Court, District of Columbia
Kessler United States District Judge
April 4, 2016, this Court granted Plaintiffs' Motion for
Modification of the Settlement Order [Dkt. No. 2093]
enjoining the District of Columbia ("the District"
or "Defendants") to (1) "provisionally approve
all Medicaid applications pending over 45 days until a final
determination can be made, " and (2) "to continue
the eligibility of all Medicaid recipients due to be renewed
or recertified for 90 days after each recipient's renewal
or recertification deadline unless Defendants have
affirmatively determined that the recipient is no longer
eligible for Medicaid." April 4, 2016 Order at 2-3 [Dkt.
matter now before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Stay
the Court's Order Filed on April 4, 2016
("Mot.") [Dkt. No. 2114], pending Defendants'
Motion for Reconsideration [Dkt. No. 2113] and, if necessary,
appeal, filed April 14, 2016. On April 25, 2016, Plaintiffs
filed their Opposition ("Pls.' Opp.") [Dkt. No.
2126]; on May 2, 2016, the District filed its Reply
(Defs.' Reply") [Dkt. No. 2129], and on May 4, 2016,
the District filed a Notice of Appeal with the Court of
Appeals [Dkt. No. 2131].
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits a Court to
stay a judgment pending disposition of a motion to alter or
amend judgment, or pending an appeal. Fed.R.Civ.P. 62(b)(3)
and 62(c). The following factors must be considered in
determining whether a Rule 62 stay is warranted: "(1)
the likelihood that the party seeking the stay will prevail
on the merits of the appeal; (2) the likelihood that the
moving party will be irreparably harmed absent a stay; (3)
the prospect that others will be harmed if the Court grants
the stay; and (4) the public interest in granting the
stay." Cuomo v. U.S. Nuclear Regulatory
Comm'n, 772 F.2d 972, 974 (D.C. Cir. 1985) (citing
Wash. Metro. Area Transit Comm'n v. Holiday Tours,
Inc.. 559 F.2d 841, 843 (D.C. Cir. 1977)).
consideration of Defendants' Motion to Stay, the
Opposition, and the Reply, the Court concludes, for the
following reasons, that the requested Stay shall be granted.
to the likelihood that the District will prevail on the
merits of the appeal, "[i]t will ordinarily be enough
that the movant has raised questions going to the merits, so
serious, substantial, and difficult as to make them a fair
ground of litigation and thus for more deliberative
investigation." Baker v. Socialist People's
Libyan Arab Jamahirya, 810 F.Supp.2d 90, 97 (D.D.C.
2011) (citing Washington Metro. Area Transit Comm'n
v. Holiday Tours, Inc., 559 F.2d at 844)).
case, the District has in fact raised serious issues about
the difficulties that would flow from extensive and
unintended effects of the Court's Order. In the
District's view, the Court's Order of April 4, 2016,
will cause great confusion among Medicaid beneficiaries and
will divert much needed resources from the District's
on-going efforts to comply with the Affordable Care Act
("ACA"), 26 U.S.C. 5000A. For example, the District
argues that the Court has misunderstood the breadth of the
ruling in Rufo v. Inmates of the Suffolk County
Jail. 502 U.S. 367, 391 (1992), as to a court's
authority to fashion new remedies under changing conditions.
The District also argues that the actual relief imposed by
the Court was not tailored to remedy the Plaintiffs'
allegations of harm to EPSTD eligible children, as well as
eligible adult beneficiaries.
these examples are sufficiently serious and substantial to
warrant "more deliberative investigation."
to "the likelihood that the moving party will be
irreparably harmed absent a stay, " the District makes
its strongest argument. The District argues that it will be
irreparably harmed if the Stay is not granted. In its view,
the provisions of the April 4, 2016, Order do not involve a
"simple turn of a switch." Mot. at 10. Rather, that
Order, if not stayed, will literally halt the considerable
progress the District has made in attempting to comply with
pages 10-15 of its Motion, the District offers detailed
evidence as to the steps it must take to comply with the
April 4, 2016 Order. Among other things, it must allocate
resources to "build and modify the systems'
functionality required to perform the two categories of tasks
which are contained in the Court's Order." Mot. at
10. The Declaration of Claudia Schlosberg, the District of
Columbia Medicaid Director and Senior Deputy in the
Department of Health Care Finance ("DHCF") explains
that in order to comply with the April 4, 2016 Order, there
would have to be reprogramming of multiple systems that
support Medicaid eligibility determinations and renewals,
modifications to existing beneficiary notices, development
and programming of new beneficiary notices, development of
new business processes and modifications to existing business
processes, and new manual procedures. In addition,
eligibility workers must be re-trained and new
"scripts" must be developed for all call centers,
educational videos, and robocalls that provide beneficiaries
with information and assistance regarding the application and
renewal process. Declaration of Claudia Schlosberg in Support
of Motion to Stay ("Schlosberg Decl." [Dkt. No.
2114-1]. Ms. Schlosberg goes into enormous detail about what
each of these changes would entail in terms of staff, time,
and effect they would have on the District's attempt to
comply with the ACA requirements related to applications for,
approvals of, and renewals of eligibility. Schlosberg Decl.
at ¶¶ 7-34.
District also points out that, given the fact that the
renewal process is ongoing, many individuals have already
received notices and instructions that they will lose their
opportunity to obtain renewal if they fail to return the
documentation required for the District to make eligibility
determinations. That information would not be correct under
the Court's April 4, 2016 Order. The District states it
will also be forced to change a significant amount of
outreach material to conform with the April 4, 2016 Order and
must develop training materials to provide its staff at
separate call centers and a specific unit which is dedicated
to processing renewals.
is no question that the resources which will be necessary to
implement the changes required by the April 4, 2016 Order
must be diverted from other critical ACA projects on which
employees have been and are now working. Those projects exist
to implement the ACA's complex requirements for timely
processing of applications and renewals. In other words, the
District claims it will have to move staff working on those
projects in order to comply with the April 4, 2016, Order,
rather than allowing staff to continue meeting the needs of
compliance with the ACA. Clearly, it is not in anyone's
interest for the District to fail to continue the ACA
if the District's appeal is successful, it will then have
to go through a lengthy and expensive process to reverse what
was required by the April 4, 2016 Order.
to "the prospect that others will be harmed if the Court
grants the stay, " (Cuomo, 772 F.2d at 974), this Court
cannot ignore the potential harm that Medicaid beneficiaries
may suffer if the April 4, 2016 Order is stayed. See
Pls.' Opp. at 18. However, the District has shown that
the beneficiaries stand to endure more harm if the April 4,
2016 Order is implemented prior to this ...