Supreme Court declines review of Medicare hospice cap case

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to weigh on a case debating Medicare's controversial payment cap for hospice treatment.

The case involves Southeast Arkansas Hospice Inc., a nonprofit hospice provider that argued that Medicare's reimbursement cap amounted to “unconstitutional taking,” a scenario in which federal regulations force private property to be used without compensation.

In Southeast's case, the provider was required to deliver care to patients who had reached Medicare' hospice reimbursement cap.

In March, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled that the Medicare cap didn't constitute unconstitutional taking since it “allocates the government's capacity to subsidize healthcare,” and because the provider couldn't prove that the cap stopped it from doing business. The court also noted that since Southeast voluntarily agreed to become a Medicare hospice provider, it also agreed to adhere to the program's regulations.

A Supreme Court decision in the case could have defined limits for how much uncompensated care providers could be required to give under Medicare's hospice regulations, Bloomberg BNA reported.