In a unanimous opinion by Justice Kavanaugh, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in American Hospital Ass’n v. Becerra, 596 U.S. ___, 2022 WL 2135490 (June 15, 2022), that the Medicare statute prohibits the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from setting different Medicare prescription-drug reimbursement rates for different groups of hospitals unless the agency first conducts a survey of hospitals’ acquisition costs. The decision is especially notable for what it does not say. Many commentators had predicted that the Court’s opinion in the case would overrule or narrow a longstanding but controversial doctrine of administrative law known as Chevron deference. The Court’s opinion, however, makes no mention of Chevron at all. In recent years, the Court has declined to apply Chevron in cases involving major questions, and this case arguably extends that trend by declining to apply Chevron without labeling the statutory question as a major one.
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