Health Center Regulatory Issues, Uncategorized

NACHC Submits Amicus Curiae Briefs in US Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit

By Roger Schwartz

Earlier this month, NACHC signed on to an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief in a case currently pending in the US Supreme Court and submitted its own amicus curiae brief in a Medicaid FQHC services case in the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

In Douglas v Independent Living Center of Southern California, et al the US Supreme Court is considering a case concerning whether the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution provides a cause of action in federal court under which a provider can seek to enjoin a state from implementing payment cuts on the basis that such state action violates federal Medicaid law.  NACHC joined nine other provider organizations in signing on to a brief that argued that the Supremacy Clause does provide such a cause of action.  NACHC believes this case is very important as an adverse decision by the high court, could limit the ability of some providers and others to challenge in federal court the legality of a state law or policy that contravenes federal Medicaid law.
In California Association of Rural Health Clinics and Avenal Community Health Center, et al v. David Maxwell Jolly, NACHC filed its own amicus curiae brief in support of plaintiff health centers that have maintained that Medicaid FQHC legislation requires the State of California to reimburse FQHCs and RHCs for certain chiropractic, podiatry, optometry and dental services even if the state does not include those services in its State Medicaid plan.  The legal basis for the plaintiffs’ argument is that the Medicaid statute defines FQHC Medicaid services to include not only “ambulatory service” in the state Medicaid plan but also the so-called Medicare RHC core services and that these RHC services are defined in the Medicare program to include, among other things, these four services (chiropractic, etc). A federal District Court had ruled against the FQHC/RHC plaintiffs and the case in now before the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. NACHC believes this case is important to health centers as it deals specifically with the definition and breadth of services that a state Medicaid agency must cover as an FQHC service and because a decision by the Ninth Circuit could establish important precedent that might be followed in other Federal Circuits.

Please contact me if you’d like a copy of either brief.