Supreme Court Sends Calif. Medicaid Case Back To Court Of Appeals

Reuters: Supreme Court Sends Back California Medicaid Cuts Case
The Supreme Court sent back to a lower court a case on whether Medicaid recipients and medical providers can sue California for cutting reimbursement rates in the healthcare program for low-income Americans. ... The case involved a plan by California's lawmakers in 2008 to slash Medicaid payments to doctors, hospitals and other medical providers to help reduce the state's massive budget deficit (Vicini, 2/22).

Modern Healthcare: Calif. Medicaid Case Heads Back To Lower Court
California hospitals and other providers argued in five lawsuits that state amendments to the Medicaid program, including a 10% reimbursement cut, violated language in the federal law that payments are sufficient to sustain quality and access for beneficiaries. The 9th U.S. Court of Appeals agreed and issued injunctions blocking the state from making the changes. In the meantime, however, the CMS approved some of the plan amendments and the state withdrew most of the others (Blesch, 2/22).

Politico: SCOTUS Punts On California Medicaid Lawsuit 
"All parties agree that the agency’s approval of the enjoined rate reductions does not make these cases moot," according to the opinion written by Justice Stephen Breyer, who was joined by Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. ... CMS’s actions on California Medicaid rates don’t change the "underlying substantive question" of whether the cuts are consistent with federal law, Breyer wrote. But the providers and beneficiaries may have to change their legal strategy (Millman, 2/22).

McClatchy Newspapers: Supreme Court Sends California Medicaid Case Back To 9th Circuit 
The ruling complicates California’s ongoing budget battle, which is being waged on several fronts.
California spends more than $41 billion a year on the Medicaid program, which the state operates under the name Medi-Cal. It serves more than 7 million low-income Californians and consumes about 13 percent of the state's budget. ... The Obama administration approved some of the state’s proposed cuts in October, including a 10 percent reduction in reimbursements for pharmacists and laboratory work, after the Supreme Court argument (Doyle, 2/22).

Earlier, related KHN story, explaining the background of the case: The Other Health Care Lawsuit: California Medicaid Case Headed To Supreme Court (Chase, 6/2/11) 

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