Adventist Health Sys./Sunbelt, Inc. v. Sebelius, No. 11-5990 (6th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Under the Medicaid program, the federal government offsets some state expenses for medical services to low-income persons; a state’s plan must cover medical assistance for specific populations, but a state may expand its Medicaid program by obtaining a waiver for an “experimental, pilot, or demonstration project.” In 1993, Tennessee obtained a waiver for TennCare, to cover uninsured and uninsurable individuals. Following approval, hospitals received reimbursement under the umbrella of TennCare. Because hospitals serving large numbers of low-income patients generally incur higher costs than Medicaid flat payment rates reflect, hospitals that treated a disproportionate share of low-income patients could apply for the “DSH” adjustment. A fiscal intermediary processed requests for reimbursement, including DSH adjustment payments. Due to discrepancies between the practices of fiscal intermediaries in different states, the Secretary issued a 2000 rule, providing that eligibility waiver patients were to be included as individuals “eligible for medical assistance” under Medicaid for purposes of DSH adjustment calculations. The 2005 Deficit Reduction Act ratified the rule. Adventist, a not-for-profit hospital network, provided more than 1,200 patient care days to TennCare expansion waiver patients 1995-2000. The fiscal intermediary did not include those days in calculating the adjustment. The Secretary’s Provider Reimbursement Review Board upheld the exclusion. The district court dismissed, concluding that section 1315 provided the Secretary discretion to exclude expansion waiver patient days from the DSH calculation. The Sixth Circuit affirmed.