January 07, 2015
On December 23, 2014, the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR) filed an amici curiae (“friends of the court”) brief in the Supreme Court case Armstrong v. Exceptional Child Center, Inc. (Docket No. 14-15). The case has the potential to significantly impact state Medicaid programs nationwide if the Court rules that private providers have legal standing to hold states accountable to having adequate Medicaid rates. ANCOR was joined in the brief by the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living, the National Community Pharmacists Association, the American Pharmacists Association, and America’s Essential Hospitals. The brief was prepared and filed by Joel Hamme, Esq., of Powers Pyles Sutter and Verville, P.C.
The case was originated in Idaho by a group of Medicaid waiver residential habilitation providers who brought suit against the state challenging the adequacy of existing Medicaid rates. The providers argued that the state was aware that existing rates were not sufficient to provide services prescribed by the state Medicaid program, and brought action against the state when the state legislature did not appropriate necessary funding. At issue is whether a private party, in this case, providers, has the right to bring a private right of action against a state under the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution. The Supremacy Clause establishes that federal law generally takes precedence over state law. Medicaid is operated by states with federal oversight, requirements, and funding. The Supreme Court granted review of the case to consider whether the Supremacy Clause applies under these circumstances.
“Ensuring that Medicaid programs are funded appropriately is essential to providing quality supports and services to people with significant disabilities,” said Chris Sparks, President of ANCOR Board of Directors. “We hope this case will reinforce the importance of regularly reviewing rate adequacy and making periodic adjustments to meet people’s needs.”
In its brief, ANCOR argues that while the Supreme Court should affirm the lower court’s determination that private parties do have a private right of action under the Supremacy Clause, the court could also come to the same conclusion by applying a Congressional mandate that requires that certain causes of action relating to Title XIX of the Social Security Act (which authorizes Medicaid) be considered using standards established before 1992.
Barbara Merrill, Chief Executive Officer of ANCOR said, “ANCOR is pleased to have the opportunity to advocate for the right of providers to challenge inadequate rates within their state Medicaid system. We are encouraged that the Court has taken up this issue which will hugely impact millions of people that rely on Medicaid funding for essential services.”
Amicus briefs are filed by interested parties who are not litigants in a case. More than a dozen amici briefs have been filed to date, representing dozens of interested parties. In addition to provider and other stakeholder organizations, several Democratic members of the U.S. Congress filed an amici brief supporting the argument that Congress intended to preserve the private cause of action for parties who seek to enforce Medicaid’s federal authority over state actions to the contrary.
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the case on January 20, 2015.