ON WRITS OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT
Medicaid is a cooperative federal-state program that provides medical care to needy individuals. To qualify for federal funds, a State must submit its Medicaid plan and any amendments to the federal agency that administers the program, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Before approving a plan or amendments, CMS conducts a review to determine whether they comply with federal requirements. Federal law requires state plans or amendments to "assure that payments are consistent with efficiency, economy, and quality of care and are sufficient to enlist enough providers" to make Medicaid "care and services" available. 42 U. S. C. §1396a(a)(30)(A).
After California enacted three statutes reducing the State's payments to various Medicaid providers, the State submitted plan amendments to CMS. Before the agency finished its review, Medicaid providers and beneficiaries sought, in a series of cases, to enjoin the rate reductions on the ground that they were pre-empted by federal Medicaid law. In seven decisions, the Ninth Circuit ultimately affirmed or ordered preliminary injunctions preventing the State from implementing its statutes. The court (1) held that the providers and beneficiaries could bring a Supremacy Clause action; (2) essentially accepted their claim that the State did not show that its amended plan would provide sufficient services; (3) held that the amendments thus conflicted with §1396a(a)(30)(A); and (4) held that the federal statute pre-empted the new state laws. In the meantime, agency officials disapproved the amendments, and California sought further administrative review. The cases were in this posture when the Court granted certiorari to decide whether respondents could mount a Supremacy Clause challenge. After oral argument, CMS approved several of the State's amendments, and the State withdrew its requests for approval of the remainder.
Held: The judgments are vacated and the cases are remanded, thereby permitting the parties to argue before the Ninth Circuit in the first instance the question whether respondents may maintain Supremacy Clause actions now that CMS has approved the state statutes. Pp. 5--8.
(a) CMS' approval does not make these cases moot, but it does put them in a different posture, since the federal agency charged with administering Medicaid has now found that the rate reductions comply with federal law. That decision does not change the substantive question whether California's statutes are consistent with federal law, but it may change the answer. It may also require respondents to seek review of CMS' determination under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) rather than in a Supremacy Clause action against California. The APA would likely permit respondents to obtain an authoritative judicial determination of the merits of their legal claim. And their basic challenge now presents the kind of legal question ordinarily calling for APA review. The Medicaid Act commits to a federal agency the power to administer a federal program, and the agency has exercised that authority. As CMS is comparatively expert in the statute's subject matter, its decision carries weight. And §1396a(a)(30)(A)'s broad and general language suggests that CMS' expertise is relevant in determining the provision's application. Finally, to allow a Supremacy Clause action to proceed once CMS has reached a decision threatens potential inconsistency or confusion. The Ninth Circuit declined to give weight to the Federal Govern-ment's interpretation of the federal law, but courts are ordinarily required to apply deference standards to agency decisionmaking. The parties suggest no reasons why such standards should not be applied here or why, now that CMS has acted, a court should reach a different result in an APA action than in a Supremacy Clause action. That would make the Supremacy Clause challenge at best redundant. Permitting it to continue would seem inefficient, for the federal agency is not a participant in the action, which will decide whether agency-approved state rates violate federal law. Pp. 5--8.
(b) Given the present posture of the cases, the Court does not address whether the Ninth Circuit properly recognized a Supremacy Clause action to enforce the federal law before the agency took final action. To decide whether these cases may proceed under the Supremacy Clause now that the agency has acted, it will be necessary on remand to consider at least the matters addressed by this Court. P. 8.
No. 09-958, 572 F. 3d 644 (first judgment), 342 Fed. Appx. 306 (second judgment), No. 09-1158,
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Breyer
We granted certiorari in these cases to decide whether Medicaid providers and recipients may maintain a cause of action under the Supremacy Clause to enforce a federal Medicaid law-a federal law that, in their view, conflicts with (and pre-empts) state Medicaid statutes that reduce payments to providers. Since we granted certiorari, however, the relevant circumstances have changed. The federal agency in charge of administering Medicaid, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), has now approved the state statutes as consistent with the federal law. In light of the changed circumstances, we believe that the question before us now is whether, once the agency has approved the state statutes, groups of Medicaid providers and beneficiaries may still maintain a Supremacy Clause action asserting that the state statutes are inconsistent with the federal Medicaid law. For the reasons set forth below, we vacate the Ninth Circuit's judgments and remand these cases for proceedings consistent with this opinion.
Medicaid is a cooperative federal-state program that provides medical care to needy individuals. To qualify for federal funds, States must submit to a federal agency (CMS, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services) a state Medicaid plan that details the nature and scope of the State's Medicaid program. It must also submit any amendments to the plan that it may make from time to time. And it must receive the agency's approval of the plan and any amendments. Before granting approval, the agency reviews the State's plan and amendments to determine whether they comply with the statutory and regulatory requirements governing the Medicaid program. See 42 U. S. C. §§1316(a)(1), (b), 1396a(a), (b); 42 CFR §430.10 et seq. (2010); Wilder v. Virginia Hospital Assn., 496 U. S. 498, 502 (1990). And the agency's director has specified that the agency will not provide federal funds for any state plan amendment until the agency approves the amendment. See Letter from Timothy M. Westmoreland, Director, Center for ...