The American Hospital Association is attempting to intervene as an interested party in an unfolding administrative struggle that could result in thousands of healthcare providers across the country being classified as federal subcontractors because they treat active-duty soldiers.
Federal subcontractor case eyed
Industry attorneys say federal subcontractor status is a critical distinction because it triggers federal workforce requirements, including the development of detailed affirmative-action plans and numerous other requirements to prevent discrimination in hiring and compensation.
“I think this has a big impact. A lot of midsized providers are going to find themselves being federal contractors,” said Stephanie Dodge Gournis, a partner with Drinker Biddle & Reath.
In 2007, Florida Hospital of Orlando received notice that the government considered it a federal subcontractor because it received more than $100,000 for treating veterans in the federal Tricare program through agreements with a local HMO, Humana Military Healthcare Services.
After a three-year legal battle in the Labor Department's administrative courts, Administrative Law Judge Jeffrey Tureck ruled last month that the 2,084-bed Florida Hospital was indeed a federal subcontractor. An appeal is pending before the department's administrative review board, where the AHA has filed a request to file a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of healthcare providers.
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