Sebelius v. Auburn Regional Medical Center - Oral Argument - December 04, 2012

Sebelius v. Auburn Regional Medical Center

Media for Sebelius v. Auburn Regional Medical Center

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - January 22, 2013 in Sebelius v. Auburn Regional Medical Center

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 04, 2012 in Sebelius v. Auburn Regional Medical Center

John G. Roberts, Jr.:

We'll hear argument first this morning in Case 11-1231, Sebelius v. Auburn Regional Medical Center.

Mr. Kneedler.

Edwin S. Kneedler:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

Under Part A of the Medicare program, the Federal Government pays out more than $230 billion annually to more than 30,000 institutional providers, including more than 6,000 hospitals.

The total amount to which each of these providers is entitled is determined by a fiscal intermediary on the basis of a cost report.

The statute provides that a provider may obtain a hearing before the Provider Reimbursement Review Board only if he appeals the intermediary's determination with -- within 180 days.

For the almost 40 years of the existence of the Provider Reimbursement Review Board, the Secretary, pursuant to her broad rulemaking authority, has prohibited the board from extending that period, and instead required dismissal of the appeal except as specifically provided in the Secretary's own regulations.

John G. Roberts, Jr.:

Mr. Kneedler, there's a little bit of at least facial incongruity in your position.

Congress sets in place the 180-day limit.

Then, you say, oh, well, that, we can go beyond that.

The Secretary puts in the 3-year limit, and you say that's it; you know, that's the dead drop-off.

I would have thought what Congress says is entitled to greater weight than what the Secretary says.

Edwin S. Kneedler:

Well, the 180-day limitation here is not a limitation applied to suits filed in court in which the court is the relevant tribunal, and the court has itself construed the statute's regulating access to the courts or the appellate courts as a matter of internal judicial administration.

This deadline governs an appeal within the Department of Health and Human Services, and that is something that Congress has delegated the responsibility to the Secretary to construe the relevant statutes and to adopt the relevant regulations pursuant to her broad rulemaking authority.

So in -- in this setting, it is the board that is the relevant tribunal, and the rules governing the board's jurisdiction are established--

Sonia Sotomayor:

Excuse me.

Edwin S. Kneedler:

--Excuse me.

Sonia Sotomayor:

You don't mention Union Pacific in your brief.

How can you be calling what you're doing setting your jurisdictional limits?

Didn't we say in Union Pacific that agencies can't do that?

You can't define your own jurisdiction.

Edwin S. Kneedler:

Well, I--

Sonia Sotomayor:

You may or may not be able to establish claim processing rules.

That, I think, is a totally different question.

But why do you continue to use it as jurisdictional language?

Edwin S. Kneedler:

--Well, I was responding to -- first of all, the -- the Secretary's regulations have from the outset referred to these limitations as limitations on the board's jurisdiction.

This is -- this is set forth in the regulations promulgated--

Sonia Sotomayor:

Well, in that respect, I think the amici is right.

You can't -- if they're jurisdictional, we've clearly said that equitable tolling doesn't apply under any circumstances.

Edwin S. Kneedler:

--Right.