If CMS leaders make decisions—even seemingly small ones—without input from stakeholders and the public, physicians and their Medicare patients may suffer substantial costs and other burdens, physicians told the U.S. Supreme Court.

Standing for physicians

The AMA Litigation Center is the strongest voice for America's medical profession in legal proceedings across the country.

In a friend-of-the-court brief that the Litigation Center of the American Medical Association and State Medical Societies filed on behalf of the AMA and the Medical Society of the District of Columbia in the U.S. Supreme Court, physicians told justices that "even 'seemingly minor' modifications in reimbursement determinations give rise to extreme financial consequences for providers and ultimately their patients."

The brief calls on the court to require that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which oversees CMS, follow the Medicare statute that requires notice-and-comment rulemaking even if it seems burdensome.

"Notice-and-comment rulemaking facilitates public input into agency decision-making, as well as greater transparency and clarity on the part of the agency and in this way provides an important check against unbridled administrative power," the Litigation Center brief tells the court. "Because the administration of Medicare implicates the health of millions of Americans, fulsome opportunities for public input are essential."

The case before the U.S. Supreme Court, Azar v Allina Health Services et al., stems from a lawsuit that challenges whether CMS had the right to skip the notice-and-comment rulemaking process when it changed the method used to calculate payments to hospitals to cover their additional costs for serving low-income patients.

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