The Center for Medicare Advocacy files amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs in cases that may have a significant impact on access to health care for older adults and people with disabilities. Read examples of these briefs below.
May 13, 2020
The Center for Medicare Advocacy, along with AARP and Justice in Aging, filed an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the Affordable Care Act. The three organizations highlight the ACA’s critical protections for older adults and the disastrous ramifications that will ensue if the law is struck down. The three organizations also filed an amicus brief in January 2020 asking the Supreme Court to grant review of the case, and one with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in April 2019. The Fifth Circuit ruled that because Congress reduced the penalty for remaining uninsured to $0, the ACA’s mandate to purchase insurance can no longer be considered a tax, which is what rendered it constitutional according to the Supreme Court (NFIB v. Sebelius). Although it was clear that Congress did not intend to strike down the entire ACA when it reduced the penalty, the Fifth Circuit relied on unsound reasoning to conclude that many of the ACA’s provisions may not be “severable” from the mandate and therefore must also be dismantled. The Center urges the Supreme Court to reverse the Fifth Circuit’s decision.
Invalidating the ACA would directly harm older adults and people with disabilities by throwing the Medicare program into fiscal and administrative chaos and eliminating cost savings for beneficiaries. Read the Center’s full statement here.
March 16, 2020
This amicus brief urges the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit to allow Medicare Part D coverage of a medication for people with chronic kidney disease. When the Medicare agency abruptly barred coverage of the FDA-approved medication, the manufacturer (Akebia) requested injunctive relief based on the Administrative Procedure Act. In urging the court to reverse the district court’s denial of a preliminary injunction, the Center seeks to protect the interests of beneficiaries who need the medication against an erroneously restrictive interpretation of Medicare coverage law. The Center also filed an amicus brief with the district court in this case.
California v. U.S. Dep’t of Homeland Security and other “public charge” cases
The Center joined numerous other organizations that advocate for older adults in filing amicus briefs in several lawsuits challenging the Department of Homeland Security’s “public charge” rule. The regulation, finalized in 2019, represents a drastic change in how applicants for lawful permanent residency (green cards) are evaluated, and will have a particularly negative impact on older immigrants, including those who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid. Under the public charge rule, use of programs that are often vital to the livelihood of older adults, such as Medicaid, SNAP (food stamps), or housing benefits, can jeopardize the pathway to a green card. The rule also makes being over 62 or having a treatable medical condition, “negative factors” in the public charge determination. Amicus briefs were filed in the U.S. Courts of Appeal for the Second and Ninth Circuits.
July 8, 2020
When New York residents apply for personal care services at home through the state Medicaid program, the initial determination of how many hours of care will be provided is made by a managed care organization (MCO). Although individuals have statutory and constitutional rights to challenge denials of service, they have not been allowed to appeal when they disagree with the number of personal care hours that the MCO initially determines are necessary. In this proposed class action, the named plaintiff was not allowed to appeal when an MCO provided far fewer hours of personal care services than she requested and required. The Center for Medicare Advocacy joined the National Health Law Program and Justice in Aging in submitting an amicus brief to the Second Circuit in support of the plaintiff. The organizations explained why such appeals are critical in a managed care system where there are incentives to provide less care, and why the plaintiff has stated a valid constitutional due process claim. Like the Center’s Alexander v. Azar case involving appeals by hospital patients placed on “observation status,” Bellin involves due process protections for people who rely on public health programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.