U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear appeal from local hospital Ed Fraser Memorial Hospital

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Ed Fraser Memorial Hospital

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by Ed Fraser Hospital (25-bed facility in Baker County) in a case that was about payments for treating federal detainees. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year ruled against the hospital, which argued that it should not be limited to charging Medicare rates when it provides emergency care for detainees coming from a local facility that houses people in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to court documents.    Baker County Medical Services Inc., which operates the hospital, originally brought the suit in 2012, asking for declaratory judgment and seeking to recover about $77,000 from the U.S. Marshals Service and $289,000 from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  The hospital contended that requiring it to charge the Medicare rates was an unconstitutional “taking” because actual costs are higher than those rates. But the Eleventh Circuit  in August pointed to the hospital’s participation in the Medicare program.  As part of that participation, hospitals also are required to comply with what is known as the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTLA), which requires them to provide emergency treatment to all patients without regard to ability to pay.  Federal law supported their ruling.

Under 18 U.S.C. Section 4006, Congress established that “'[p]ayment for costs incurred for the provision of health care items and services for individuals in’ federal custody — including medical treatment provided in emergency rooms — ‘shall be the amount billed, not to exceed the amount that would be paid for the provision of similar health care items and services under the Medicare program,’” the government cited in its brief.

The appeals court said the hospital was precluded from challenging the Medicare payments as an unconstitutional taking. Click here for the 11th Circuit Opinion: http://media.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinions/pub/files/201313917.pdf

The Supreme Court on Monday did not explain its reasons for declining to take the case.

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