Machado v. Leavitt

No. 07-30111-MAP (D. Mass.), filed June 19, 2007

Last Update: December 24, 2009

Issue: Whether the failure of the Secretary of HHS and the Commissioner of Social Security to stop withholding premium payments for Part D when requested by beneficiaries, and to repay the amounts improperly withheld, violates the Medicare statute, the anti-assignment provision of the Social Security Act, and the Due Process Clause.

Relief sought: Declaratory and injunctive relief requiring the Secretary and the Commissioner to stop withholding premium payments, or to withhold the correct amounts, when so requested by beneficiaries, and to repay the amounts improperly withheld.

Status: Plaintiffs filed their complaint along with a motion for certification of a nationwide class of similarly situated Part D beneficiaries whose premium payments have been improperly withheld.  On August 2, 2007, plaintiffs filed an amended complaint naming several additional plaintiffs.

On September 26, 2007, defendants moved to dismiss (instead of filing an answer), contending that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction under any of the cited jurisdictional provisions, that plaintiffs had failed to state a claim, and that the claims of all the named plaintiffs had been mooted out by the post-complaint actions taken by defendants.  The parties completed briefing of the class motion and the motion to dismiss, with plaintiffs contending, inter alia, that the filing of the class motion precludes the case from being mooted out.  After hearing oral argument on the two motions on December 18, 2007, the district judge took the matter under submission.

On March 31, 2008, the court issued a short order and opinion in which it granted the Secretary’s motion to dismiss with respect to plaintiffs’ three statutory claims under the Medicare Modernization Act and 42 U.S.C. §407 but did not dismiss the due process claim.  The court denied the motion for class certification without prejudice and in expectation that it could be renewed after discovery was completed.  The court urged the parties to agree on a discovery schedule.  On April 9, the court issued a lengthy opinion in which it explained the basis for its earlier order.  See Machado v. Leavitt, 542 F. Supp. 2d 185 (D.Mass. 2008). The defendants filed an answer on April 16.

In response to discovery, defendants have provided voluminous documents and written responses, and the parties continue to negotiate over further discovery.  After lengthy negotiations, the parties agreed to a settlement that will provide greater protections for Part D beneficiaries on issues involving premium withholding. By agreement, the case was dismissed with prejudice on October 1, 2009.