Batsche v. Price, No. 16-4305 (8th Cir. 2017)

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Justia Opinion Summary

The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction an action alleging that a fee paid to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under the transitional reinsurance program in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), 42 U.S.C. 18061(b)(1)(A), did not apply to self-insured, self-administered plans. The Fund asked the district court to declare that it was not required to submit the fee and was entitled to reimbursement of its mistaken payment to the Department. The court affirmed the district court's holding that the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 702, 704, did not waive sovereign immunity and, even without sovereign immunity, the Tucker Act would vest exclusive jurisdiction over this lawsuit in the United States Court of Federal Claims.

Court Description: Per Curiam - Before Smith, Chief Judge, and Gruender and Benton, Circuit Judges] Civil case - patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. District court order dismissing this action for lack of jurisdiction affirmed without comment. [ November 22, 2017
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United States Court of Appeals For the Eighth Circuit ___________________________ No. 16-4305 ___________________________ Paul Batsche; Scott Gale; Jeff Huberty; Doug Jones; Maggy Kottman; Gary Thaden; Tom Vail, as Trustees of the Twin City Pipe Trades Welfare Fund; Michael Tieva lllllllllllllllllllll Plaintiffs - Appellants v. Thomas E. Price, in his official capacity as Secretary for the United States Department of Health and Human Services lllllllllllllllllllll Defendant - Appellee ____________ Appeal from United States District Court for the District of Minnesota - Minneapolis ____________ Submitted: October 18, 2017 Filed: November 27, 2017 [Published] ____________ Before SMITH, Chief Judge, GRUENDER and BENTON, Circuit Judges. ____________ PER CURIAM. Appellants are trustees of the Twin City Pipe Trades Welfare Fund, which operates a self-insured, self-administered group health plan. In December 2014, the Fund paid a $762,663.90 fee to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, under the transitional reinsurance program in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). See 42 U.S.C. § 18061(b)(1)(A) (“health insurance issuers, and third party administrators on behalf of group health plans, are required to make payments to an applicable reinsurance entity for any plan year beginning in the 3-year period beginning January 1, 2014”). In January 2015, the Fund sued the Department, alleging the fee does not apply to self-insured, self-administered plans. The Fund asked the court to declare that it was not required to “submit a Transitional Reinsurance Fee for benefit year 2014” and was “entitled to reimbursement of its mistaken payment to the Department . . . .” It sought “a judgment against the Defendant in the amount of $762,663.90.” The district court1 dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Batsche v. Burwell, 210 F. Supp. 3d 1130, 1137 (D. Minn. 2016). The Fund appeals. Subject-matter jurisdiction is a question of law this court reviews de novo. ABF Freight Sys, Inc. v. International Bhd. of Teamsters, 645 F.3d 954, 958 (8th Cir. 2011). The plaintiff bears the burden of establishing jurisdiction. Osborn v. United States, 918 F.2d 724, 730 (8th Cir. 1990). The Fund argues the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) waives the Department’s sovereign immunity. Under the APA, sovereign immunity is waived if the claimant challenges a “final agency action,” seeks relief “other than money damages,” and has “no other adequate remedy in a court.” 5 U.S.C. §§ 702, 704. The district court found the APA does not waive sovereign immunity because the “‘true nature’ of this lawsuit is a claim for money damages.” Batsche, 210 F. Supp. 3d at 1135. Even without sovereign immunity, the court found “the Tucker Act would vest exclusive jurisdiction over this lawsuit in the United States Court of Federal Claims.” Id. at 1136, citing 28 U.S.C. § 1491(a)(1); State of Minn. by Noot v. Heckler, 718 F.2d 852, 857 (8th Cir. 1983) (“The exclusive 1 The Honorable Patrick J. Schiltz, United States District Judge for the District of Minnesota. -2- jurisdiction of the [Court of Federal Claims] applies to monetary claims in excess of $10,000 against the United States and its agencies.”). The district court did not err in its thorough and well-reasoned decision. Further discussion of the matter would have no precedential value. See 8th Cir. R. 47B. ******* The judgment is affirmed. ______________________________ -3-