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No. CV04-1691 (W.D. Wash.), filed July 30, 2004

Updated: January 3, 2008

Issue: Whether regulations that authorize states to allow Medicare and Medicaid certified nursing facilities to hire feeding assistants with eight hours of training violate the Nursing Home Reform Law or the Administrative Procedure Act.

Relief sought: A declaratory judgment that the regulations are invalid and a permanent injunction prohibiting their enforcement.

Status: The complaint was filed July 30, 2004, and an amended complaint naming individual and organizational plaintiffs from Michigan was filed on October 28, 2004.  Shortly after the Secretary filed an answer and a document purporting to be the Administrative Record, the American Health Care Association (AHCA) moved to intervene as a defendant as of right, or, alternatively, by permission of the court. On January 25, 2005, the Court denied the motion to intervene.

The Secretary's motion to dismiss on standing grounds was granted in part and denied in part, with the court concluding that the two Washington organizations had standing to pursue the claims.  2005 WL 1027123 (W.D. Wash 2005)  On September 8, 2005, however, the court ruled in the government's favor on the merits.  It held that the key statutory term — "nursing or nursing-related services" — was sufficiently ambiguous that the court should defer to the Secretary's interpretation, and that the Secretary's regulation was not arbitrary and capricious and therefore did not violate the APA.

On August 31, 2007, after oral argument, the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the district court, holding that the language of the statute was sufficiently ambiguous that the Court should defer to the Secretary's interpretation as set out in the new feeding assistant regulation. 500 F.3d 1025 (9th Cir. 2007).  The plaintiffs did not seek review of the Court of Appeals' decision.

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