Feds ask court to throw out Bennett County hospital lawsuitSIOUX FALLS(AP) — The federal government asked a judge on Monday to throw out a lawsuit filed by a South Dakota hospital, saying Indian Health Services is not responsible for some of the health care bills under federal guidelines and that the hospital lacks jurisdiction.
By: Kristi Eaton, The Associated Press
SIOUX FALLS(AP) — The federal government asked a judge on Monday to throw out a lawsuit filed by a South Dakota hospital, saying Indian Health Services is not responsible for some of the health care bills under federal guidelines and that the hospital lacks jurisdiction.
Bennett County Hospital and Nursing Home in Martin contends it was only reimbursed $635,000 for care provided to members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe from October 2007 to March 2012, and is owed $1.65 million from the government. The lawsuit, filed in September, names Indian Health Services, the Department of Health and Human Services and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius as defendants.
The hospital has been on the brink of closure because of the financial problems, which would leave a hole in emergency medical care availability in southwestern South Dakota.
In the motion to dismiss the lawsuit, which was filed in federal district court Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Camela Theeler said the federal government has sovereign immunity against such lawsuits unless a waiver is presented.
She also contends the lawsuit belongs in U.S. Court of Federal Claims because the hospital is seeking damages over $10,000, did not prove the claims meet the eligibility criteria for reimbursement and did not exhaust all its administrative remedies.
The federal government said records show that Bennett County Hospital only appealed 20 claims to the IHS District office from October 2007 to present, with five being approved for payment, five pending and 10 appeals upheld.
"At the very most, Plaintiff has only ten claims where the administrative remedies were exhausted, and Plaintiff even fails to assert that it exhausted the remedies on those claims," a memorandum accompanying the motion to dismiss said.
The Bennett County Hospital administrator did not immediately return a message Monday seeking comment.