As the partial government shutdown stretches into its third week, it has had an impact on a growing number of health programs. It has also had an impact in another venue: the courtroom.
Starting last month, federal attorneys have requested stays across their collection of cases since appropriations for the Department of Justice lapsed.
That includes some battles involving healthcare organizations.
- A U.S. District Judge for the Central District of California granted a stay to U.S. attorneys in an ongoing false claims case brought by federal prosecutors against UnitedHealth Group for its Medicare Advantage billing practices. The judge cited the lapse in appropriations for the Justice Department.
- On Dec. 26, a U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Illinois ordered a suspension of all civil litigation involving the Department of Justice or U.S. Attorney's Office lawyers for 14 days. That includes a whistleblower lawsuit against Molina Healthcare in which the managed care organization is accused of deceiving state and federal regulators by neglecting to provide mandatory nursing home care in violation of its contracts with the state of Illinois.
- Department of Justice attorneys requested a stay in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in the case brought by the Association for Community Health Plans against the Department of Treasury challenging the short-term, limited-duration insurance plans. They point out cross-motions for summary judgment are due on Jan. 11 and briefings on those motions are due Feb. 1. Judge Richard Leon agreed and stayed the case and its deadlines until the shutdown wraps up.
One case that has not been impacted is an ongoing bankruptcy case of Boca Raton-based Promise Health Group. In that case, Justice Department lawyers filed an emergency motion to authorize a stay of all proceeding in light of the shutdown. "Absent an appropriation, Department of Justice attorneys are prohibited from working, even on a voluntary basis," they wrote.
However, Promise and its debtors filed a joint objection to the request and the judge agreed not to delay the case.