St. Helena Clear Lake Hospital v. Xavier Becerra, No. 21-5117 (D.C. Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
Appellant, a California critical access hospital, sought Medicare reimbursement for the cost of keeping specialty doctors on call. Under the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, hospitals providing emergency room service must stabilize patients before releasing them or transferring them to another hospital. Additionally, California law requires all hospitals to perform certain procedures, including surgery. Appellant claims that it cannot comply with both state and federal law unless it can pay on-call compensation to specialists in surgery, obstetrics, pediatrics, and cardiology.
Affirming the district court’s ruling, the D.C. Circuit held that Appellant is not entitled to Medicare reimbursement for the cost of keeping various specialty doctors on call. Appellant’s federal obligation to stabilize patients before release does not necessarily imply the need for various specialists. Thus, the Provider Reimbursement Review Board (“the Board”) reasonably concluded that Appellant had the ability to stabilize patients with existing emergency room physicians and that specialists were not required to be on call.
Regarding Appellant’s state obligations, the Board’s conclusion that Appellant could satisfy the requirements by keeping a physician with surgical training on-site was reasonable.