The Supreme Court of the United States announced decisions in two cases this morning:

Wos v. E.M.A., No. 12-98: Under the anti-lien provision in 42 U.S.C. § 1396p(a)(1), a State’s effort to take any portion of a Medicaid beneficiary’s tort judgment or settlement not “designated as payments for medical care” is preempted. Arkansas Dept. of Health and Human Servs. V. Ahlborn, 547 U.S. 268, 284 (2006). Here, respondent filed a medical malpractice suit that settled, and the state court in approving the settlement placed a portion of the settlement recovery in escrow pending a determination of the amount of the lien owed to the State of North Carolina, pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 108A-57, which requires that up to one-third of any damages recovered by a beneficiary for a tortious injury be paid to the State to reimburse it for medical treatment. Respondent then brought suit in Federal District Court alleging that the State’s reimbursement scheme violated the Medicaid anti-lien provision. The District Court, mirroring the North Carolina Supreme Court, held that North Carolina’s irrebuttable statutory presumption that one-third of a Medicaid beneficiary’s tort recovery is attributable to medical expenses was reasonable. The Fourth Circuit vacated that decision, and the Court today affirmed, holding that the federal anti-lien provision preempted the North Carolina statute.

The Court's decision is available here.

Decker v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center, No. 11-338: The Clean Water Act and its implementing regulations require permits to be secured before discharging pollutants from a point source into the United States’ navigable waterways. Logging-related discharges are point-sources, but are exempt if the discharges are “composed entirely of stormwater,” unless the discharge is “associated with industrial activity.” The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has in turn issued a regulation defining the term “associated industrial activity,” 40 CFR 122.26(b)(14), and has interpreted its regulation to exclude channeled stormwater runoff from logging roads from the permit requirements. Here, respondent filed suit against petitioner, alleging that the petitioner had not obtained permits before discharging stormwater runoff. The District Court concluded the permits were not required, and the Ninth Circuit reversed, holding in part that the discharges were “associated with industrial activity” notwithstanding EPA’s conclusion to the contrary. Today, the Court reversed, holding that the EPA’s determination is a reasonable interpretation of its own regulation, and, in consequence, deference is accorded to the interpretation under Auer v. Robbins, 519 U.S. 452, 461 (1997).

The Court's decision is available here.