WASHINGTON, D.C. — A health plan administrator argues in a May 15 opposition brief to the U.S. Supreme Court that a recent denial of an attorney fees award by the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to a plan participant who, in an earlier appeal, won a procedural victory, did not create confusion courts among courts handling cases under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Ariana M. v. Humana Health Plan of Texas, Inc., No. 19-980, U.S. Sup.).
NEW ORLEANS —The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled May 14 that an issue of fact should have precluded summary judgment to Humana Health Plan Inc. in an Employee Retirement Income Security Act dispute over the insurer’s partial denial of coverage to a woman who sought hospitalization to treat an eating disorder (Katherine P. v. Humana Health Plan, Inc., No. 19-50276, 5th Cir.; 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 15465).
MIAMI — A health insurer’s portrayal of an arbitration agreement with a provider as surviving the contract’s termination and existing into perpetuity “borders on frivolous,” a state judge in Florida said May 1 in declining to compel arbitration (Kidz Medical Services Inc. v. UnitedHealthcare of Florida Inc., et al., No. 2019-0234560-CA-01, Fla. Cir., Miami-Dade Co., 2020 Fla. Cir. LEXIS 390).
BATON ROUGE, La. — An expert’s opinions on the differences between communicating by talking and doing so by sign language in a Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) suit asserting that a hospital discriminated against a deaf woman by not offering her a sign language interpreter will assist jurors and should not be excluded, a Louisiana federal judge held May 13 (Katrina Rivers Labouliere v. Our Lady of the Lake Hospital, Inc., No. 16-785, M.D. La., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84024).
DENVER — A class of insured individuals pursuing an action alleging that air transport companies charged them exorbitant fees may pursue a declaratory order that no contract exists between the parties, but their injunctive and nondeclaratory relief claims fail, a federal judge said May 8 while denying a motion to strike class claims (Jeremey Lee Scarlett, et al. v. Air Methods Corp., et al., Nos. 17-485, 17-502, 17-509, 17-667, 17-791, 17-1771, 19-1951, D. Colo. 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 81382).
YAKIMA, Wash. — A plaintiff credibly alleges that her insurer overstated its provider network, causing her to spend money on out-of-network care, but the individualized issues required for a remedy and the existence of superior methods of seeking relief doom the class, a federal judge in Washington said May 12 (Cynthia Harvey, et al. v. Centene Corp., et al., No. 18-12, E.D. Wash., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 83642).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Nothing prevents a dialysis provider from pursuing reimbursement claims under a federal health insurance policy as an assignee, a federal judge in the District of Columbia said May 8 (RAI Care Centers of Maryland I v. Office of Personnel Management, No. 18-3151, D. D.C., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 81431).
LOS ANGELES — A facility provided medically necessary treatments to insureds with plans covering mental health and substance abuse treatments but was not reimbursed for the care, a plaintiff alleges in a May 7 consolidated amended complaint (ABC Services Group Inc v. Health Net of California Inc., et al., No. 19-243, C.D. Calif.).
NEW YORK — A deaf woman’s testimony at trial that she requested American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters does not entitled her to judgment, and nothing in a trial over alleged discrimination under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and other laws warrants granting a new one, a federal judge in New York said March 26 (Lizzette Vega-Ruiz v. Montefiore Medical Center, No. 17-1804, S.D. N.Y., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53285).
BALTIMORE — The ethical and financial implications of a rule requiring strict separation of medical and abortion services for Title X funding recipients featured heavily in oral arguments before the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 7 (Mayor and City Council of Baltimore v. Alex M. Azar II, et al., Nos. 19-1614, 20-1215, 4th Cir.).
SALT LAKE CITY — A woman denied coverage for residential mental health treatments under an Employee Retirement Income Security Act plan is entitled to discovery into documents showing how the insurers calculated reimbursements and imposed nonquantitative treatment limitations, a federal judge in Utah said May 6 (Jane Doe v. Intermountain Healthcare Inc., et al., No. 18-00807, D. Utah, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 80809).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on May 6 heard telephonic oral arguments over whether the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and federal law protecting religious beliefs permit rules providing religious and moral objectors exemptions from the statute’s contraceptive mandate, whether the government properly formulated the rules and whether a district court can issue a nationwide injunction blocking the rules (Little Sisters of the Poor Saints Peter and Paul Home v. Pennsylvania, et al., Donald J. Trump, et al. v. Pennsylvania, Nos. 19-431, 19-454, U.S. Sup.).
CLEVELAND — Despite involving Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) language providing marketplace policies for those with an intent to reside in the United States, a case claiming that a health insurer improperly rescinded a policy on the mistaken belief that the insureds moved to Ohio for treatment with no intent of staying belongs in state court, a federal judge in Ohio said April 22 (Ajit Tolani, et al. v. Medical Mutual of Ohio, No. 19-2388, N.D. Ohio., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 71098).
TRENTON, N.J. — Emergency care providers fail to plead adequate assignments of rights, which dooms Employee Retirement Income Security Act claims, but the plaintiffs may amend their complaint to cure the defect or move for remand if they do not wish to pursue the claims, a federal judge in New Jersey said April 30 (Emergency Physicians of St. Clare’s LLC, et al. v. Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, et al., No. 19-12112, D. N.J., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 75921).
NEWARK, N.J. — Anti-assignment provisions largely free two of three insurers from providers’ suit seeking compensation, and the providers have failed to state a claim for all but the church-plan-based claims, a federal judge in New Jersey found April 27 (Somerset Orthopedic Associates, et al. v. Horizon Healthcare Services Inc., et al., No. 19-8783, D. N.J.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — An insolvent insurer’s demand for payment under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) reinsurance program fails because it had already been paid based on an offset of the amount owed by the insurer under the ACA’s risk adjustment program, the U.S. government argues in its April 27 opening brief to the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (Michael Conway v. The United States, No. 20-1292, Fed. Cir.).
NEW ORLEANS — The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 24 denied a petition for en banc rehearing without poll, leaving stand a panel ruling that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) is spending clause legislation that acts as a contract and cannot support emotional distress damages (Jane Cummings v. Premier Rehab Keller PLLC, et al., No. 19-10169, 5th Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) risk-corridor program mandated payments that subsequent appropriations riders did not eliminate, and an insolvent insurer and its fellow petitioners may pursue the billions of dollars in lost payments in federal court, a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court said April 27 (Land of Lincoln Mutual Health Insurance Co. v. United States, No. 18-1038, Moda Health Plan Inc., et al. v. United States, No. 18-1028, Maine Community Health Options v. United States, No. 18-1023, U.S. Sup.).
BATON ROUGE, La. — A judge found an expert qualified to testify on hospital policies, but her opinion is unreliable because it is based on a site visit she performed in a different case in an entirely different context, a hospital told a federal judge in Louisiana April 17 (Katrina Rivers LaBouliere, et al. v. Our Lady of the Lake Hospital Inc., No. 16-785, M.D. La.).
BALTIMORE — A district court erroneously established medical providers’ ethical concerns about a Title X rule as the governing law and ignored the proper standard of review and existing precedent in concluding that abortion rules violated the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), federal defendants and various states tells the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in April 17 supplemental briefing before the en banc court (Mayor and City Council of Baltimore v. Alex M. Azar II, et al., Nos. 19-1614, 20-1215, 4th Cir.).