Eight Oklahoma hospitals seeking more disproportionate-share funds saw their case dismissed by a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. HHS changed its disproportionate-share formula in 1997 after a number of hospitals sued; however, the agency said the expansion would not be applied retrospectively. Arguing that HHS' refusal to apply the new formula retrospectively was illegal, the eight hospitals sought to reopen cost reports from the 1990s and recoup additional disproportionate-share funds. They won a summary judgment in U.S. District Court in Oklahoma City before the government appealed. The hospitals now are weighing their options for appeal, said their attorney, Sanford Pitler of the firm Bennett, Bigelow & Leedom in Seattle. The disputed amount totals between $15 million and $20 million, Pitler said. The panel's 2-to-1 decision could have ramifications for other hospitals, he said. "The analysis of the majority in this case is representative of a trend in the federal courts of deferring to the government on a number of issues in which we believe they should not be deferring," Pitler said. -- by Mark Taylor
Panel rejects hospitals' bid for more indigent funds
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