Oral argument: October 3, 2011
Appealed from: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (July 9, 2009)
A series of reforms passed by the California Assembly in 2008 and 2009 reduced the state’s payments made to California Medicaid providers. Respondents Independent Living Center of Southern California, the California Pharmacists Association, and Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital brought suit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, claiming that the payment reductions violated 42 U.S.C. § 1396a(a)(30)(A), which requires that state Medicaid plans comply with federal law or lose federal funding. Petitioner Toby Douglas, the Director of the Department of Health Care Services for the State of California, argues that health care providers cannot sue to enforce § 30(A) because the statute does not grant any enforceable rights, and Congress did not intend for private parties to sue to enforce the statute. Conversely, the health care providers argue that the Supremacy Clause permits private parties to sue if they have suffered an injury from state action, and they assert that Congress did not explicitly disallow private lawsuits in § 30(A). The Supreme Court’s decision will affect the predictability of federal law, the ability of private parties to bring lawsuits to enforce federal law, and the availability of health care to Medicaid beneficiaries.