A federal district judge on Wednesday continued the stay in community health centers’ lawsuit against federal health officials over the administrative dispute resolution process for the 340B program after accepting the explanation for a missed deadline to file a report in the case.
Judge Florence Pan of U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Tuesday ordered the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) to explain why it and the U.S. Health and Human Services Department (HHS) did not file a joint status report on or before Saturday, Sept. 3, as Pan required them to do on June 6. Pan raised the possibility of dismissing the case.
NACHC’s filing explained to Pan that the delay was due largely to the schedule of an HHS attorney who was on vacation through Labor Day. Per NACHC’s submission, on Aug. 26, before leaving for vacation, the HHS attorney proposed filing the required status report on the next business day after Labor Day, NACHC filing said. NACHC said it submitted a draft joint status report for HHS’s review on Friday, Sept. 2, but agreed to coordinate filing it on Tuesday, Sept 6. NACHC explained that it received HHS’s authorization to file the report on Tuesday only after Pan asked why the report had not yet been filed.
Sources say it was extremely unlikely that the judge would have dismissed the case over the delay in the report.
Pan on Wednesday accepted the explanation, extended the stay, and ordered the two sides to file their next joint status report on Dec. 5. Health centers are continuing to aggressively pursue their 340B ADR claims while maintaining the original litigation in the background, health center representatives say.