John B. v.Emkes, No. 12-5307 (6th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Tennessee participates in Medicaid through “TennCare,” Tenn. Code 71-5-102. The Medicaid Act requires that TennCare administer an Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment program for all enrollees under age 21, 42 U.S.C. 1396a(a)(43), 1396d(r) and must provide outreach to educate its enrollees about these services. In 1998 plaintiffs filed a putative class action under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that TennCare had failed to fulfill these obligations. The district court entered a consent decree that explained in detail the requirements that TennCare had to meet to “achieve and maintain compliance” with the Medicaid Act, based on the assumption that the Act created rights enforceable under section 1983. Eight years later, the Sixth Circuit held that one part of the Medicaid Act was unenforceable under section 1983. Following a remand, the district court vacated paragraphs of the decree that were based on parts of the Act that are not privately enforceable. After a thorough review of TennCare’s efforts, the court then vacated the entire decree, finding that TennCare had fulfilled the terms of the decree’s sunset clause by reaching a screening percentage greater than 80% and by achieving current, substantial compliance with the rest of the decree. The Sixth Circuit affirmed.