Caring Hearts v. Burwell, No. 14-3243 (10th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Caring Hearts Personal Home Services, Inc. provided physical therapy and skilled nursing services to “homebound” Medicare patients. It sought reimbursement from Medicare for services provided. The definition of who qualified as "homebound" or what services qualified as "reasonable and necessary" was unclear, even to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). CMS has developed its own rules on both subjects that had been repeatedly revised and expanded over time. In an audit, CMS purported to find that Caring Hearts provided services to at least a handful of patients who didn’t qualify as “homebound” or for whom the services rendered weren’t “reasonable and necessary.” As a result, CMS ordered Caring Hearts to repay the government over $800,000. It was later found that in reaching its conclusions CMS applied the wrong law: the agency did not apply the regulations in force in 2008 when Caring Hearts provided the services in dispute. Instead, it applied considerably more onerous regulations the agency adopted years later, "[r]egulations that Caring Hearts couldn’t have known about at the time it provided its services." The Tenth Circuit found that Caring Hearts "[made] out a pretty good case that its services were entirely consistent with the law as it was at the time they were rendered" when CMS denied Caring Hearts' request for reconsideration. The Tenth Circuit reversed the district court's judgment affirming CMS' denial to Caring Hearts for reimbursement, and remanded for further proceedings.