A blog on practice in the Nation’s second-most powerful court

D.C. Circuit rejects hospitals’ challenge to Trump Administration rule

As readers will recall, a broad collection of hospitals, led by the American Hospital Association, challenged the Trump Administration’s interpretation of the Affordable Care Act’s price-transparency requirement.  The case was argued in October, as we described in an earlier post.

Today the D.C. Circuit ruled against the hospitals.  Their primary argument was against the Administration’s statutory interpretation—and, indeed, against giving the administration Chevron deference at all. 

Here’s the core of the Court’s response:

The [American Hospital] Association argues that the rule rests on an unlawful interpretation of [the Affordable Care Act] and that no Chevron deference applies partly because the President … “picked the definition of ‘standard charges’ that [the Secretary] adopted.” Appellants’ Br. 43.


Although we have no reason to doubt Chevron’s applicability, we need not decide that question here.  Even if Chevron were inapplicable, we would “proceed to determine the meaning of” section 2718(e) by “decid[ing] for ourselves the best reading.” Miller v. Clinton, 687 F.3d 1332, 1342 (D.C. Cir. 2012) (internal quotation marks omitted). Employing the traditional tools of statutory interpretation—text, structure, and purpose—and following the “‘fundamental canon of statutory construction that the words of a statute must be read in their context and with a view to their place in the overall statutory scheme,’” we conclude that the best reading of [the Act], including the two statutory phrases at issue, i.e., “standard charges” and “a list,” permits the Secretary to adopt the challenged rule.

The decision can be found here

Notably, the decision was 2-0 (rather than 3-0, or 2-1).  The panel explained:  “Judge Garland was a member of the panel at the time this case was argued but did not participate in the final disposition of the case.”  Judge Tatel authored the opinion, joined by Senior Judge Edwards.