In this subpart, unless the context indicates otherwise:
ALJ means administrative law judge of the Departmental Appeals Board of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Filing date means the date filed electronically.
Hearing includes a hearing on a written record as well as an in-person, telephone, or video teleconference hearing.
Party means CMS or the respondent.
Receipt date means five days after the date of a document, unless there is a showing that it was in fact received later.
Respondent means an entity that received a notice of proposed assessment of a civil money penalty issued pursuant to § 150.343.
(a) The ALJ has the authority, including all of the authority conferred by the Administrative Procedure Act, to adopt whatever procedures may be necessary or proper to carry out in an efficient and effective manner the ALJ's duty to provide a fair and impartial hearing on the record and to issue an initial decision concerning the imposition of a civil money penalty.
(b) The ALJ's authority includes the authority to modify, consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 552a), any hearing procedures set out in this subpart.
(c) The ALJ does not have the authority to find invalid or refuse to follow Federal statutes or regulations.
(a) A respondent has a right to a hearing before an ALJ if it files a request for hearing that complies with § 150.407(a), within 30 days after the date of issuance of either CMS's notice of proposed assessment under § 150.343 or notice that an alternative dispute resolution process has terminated. The request for hearing should be addressed as instructed in the notice of proposed determination. “Date of issuance” is five (5) days after the filing date, unless there is a showing that the document was received earlier.
(b) The ALJ may extend the time for filing a request for hearing only if the ALJ finds that the respondent was prevented by events or circumstances beyond its control from filing its request within the time specified above. Any request for an extension of time must be made promptly by written motion.
(a) The request for hearing must do the following:
(1) Identify any factual or legal bases for the assessment with which the respondent disagrees.
(2) Describe with reasonable specificity the basis for the disagreement, including any affirmative facts or legal arguments on which the respondent is relying.
(b) The request for hearing must identify the relevant notice of assessment by date and attach a copy of the notice.
The ALJ may permit CMS to amend its notice of assessment, or permit the respondent to amend a request for hearing that complies with § 150.407(a), if the ALJ finds that no undue prejudice to either party will result.
An ALJ will order a request for hearing dismissed if the ALJ determines that:
(b) The request for hearing fails to meet the requirements of § 150.407.
(c) The entity that filed the request for hearing is not a respondent under § 150.401.
(d) The respondent has abandoned its request.
(e) The respondent withdraws its request for hearing.
CMS has exclusive authority to settle any issue or any case, without the consent of the administrative law judge at any time before or after the administrative law judge's decision.
(a) The ALJ may grant the request of an entity, other than the respondent, to intervene if all of the following occur:
(1) The entity has a significant interest relating to the subject matter of the case.
(2) Disposition of the case will, as a practical matter, likely impair or impede the entity's ability to protect that interest.
(3) The entity's interest is not adequately represented by the existing parties.
(4) The intervention will not unduly delay or prejudice the adjudication of the rights of the existing parties.
(b) A request for intervention must specify the grounds for intervention and the manner in which the entity seeks to participate in the proceedings. Any participation by an intervenor must be in the manner and by any deadline set by the ALJ.
(a) The ALJ has the authority to hear and decide the following issues:
(1) Whether a basis exists to assess a civil money penalty against the respondent.
(2) Whether the amount of the assessed civil money penalty is reasonable.
(b) In deciding whether the amount of a civil money penalty is reasonable, the ALJ -
(1) Applies the factors that are identified in § 150.317.
(2) May consider evidence of record relating to any factor that CMS did not apply in making its initial determination, so long as that factor is identified in this subpart.
(c) If the ALJ finds that a basis exists to assess a civil money penalty, the ALJ may sustain, reduce, or increase the penalty that CMS assessed.
(a) All hearings before an ALJ are on the record. The ALJ may receive argument or testimony in writing, in person, by telephone, or by video teleconference. The ALJ may receive testimony by telephone only if the ALJ determines that doing so is in the interest of justice and economy and that no party will be unduly prejudiced. The ALJ may require submission of a witness' direct testimony in writing only if the witness is available for cross-examination.
(b) The ALJ may decide a case based solely on the written record where there is no disputed issue of material fact the resolution of which requires the receipt of oral testimony.
Any attorney who is to appear on behalf of a party must promptly file, with the ALJ, a notice of appearance.
No party or person (except employees of the ALJ's office) may communicate in any way with the ALJ on any matter at issue in a case, unless on notice and opportunity for both parties to participate. This provision does not prohibit a party or person from inquiring about the status of a case or asking routine questions concerning administrative functions or procedures.
(a) Any request to the ALJ for an order or ruling must be by motion, stating the relief sought, the authority relied upon, and the facts alleged. All motions must be in writing, with a copy served on the opposing party, except in either of the following situations:
(1) The motion is presented during an oral proceeding before an ALJ at which both parties have the opportunity to be present.
(2) An extension of time is being requested by agreement of the parties or with waiver of objections by the opposing party.
(b) Unless otherwise specified in this subpart, any response or opposition to a motion must be filed within 20 days of the party's receipt of the motion. The ALJ does not rule on a motion before the time for filing a response to the motion has expired except where the response is filed at an earlier date, where the opposing party consents to the motion being granted, or where the ALJ determines that the motion should be denied.
(a) Every submission filed with the ALJ must be filed electronically and include:
(1) A caption on the first page, setting forth the title of the case, the docket number (if known), and a description of the submission (such as “Motion for Discovery”).
(2) The signatory's name, address, and telephone number.
(3) A signed certificate of service, specifying each address to which a copy of the submission is sent, the date on which it is sent, and the method of service.
(b) A party filing a submission with the ALJ must, at the time of filing, serve a copy of such submission on the opposing party. An intervenor filing a submission with the ALJ must, at the time of filing, serve a copy of the submission on all parties. If a party is represented by an attorney, service must be made on the attorney. An electronically filed submission is considered served on all parties using the electronic filing system.
(a) For purposes of this subpart, in computing any period of time, the time begins with the day following the act, event, or default and includes the last day of the period unless it is a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday observed by the Federal government, in which event it includes the next business day. When the period of time allowed is less than seven days, intermediate Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays observed by the Federal government are excluded from the computation.
(b) The period of time for filing any responsive pleading or papers is determined by the date of receipt (as defined in § 150.401) of the submission to which a response is being made.
(c) The ALJ may grant extensions of the filing deadlines specified in these regulations or set by the ALJ for good cause shown (except that requests for extensions of time to file a request for hearing may be granted only on the grounds specified in section § 150.405(b)).
After receipt of the request for hearing, the ALJ assigned to the case or someone acting on behalf of the ALJ will send a written notice to the parties that acknowledges receipt of the request for hearing, identifies the docket number assigned to the case, and provides instructions for filing submissions and other general information concerning procedures. The ALJ will set out the next steps in the case either as part of the acknowledgement or on a later date.
[86 FR 24286, May 5, 2021]
(a) The parties must identify any need for discovery from the opposing party as soon as possible, but no later than the time for the reply specified in § 150.437(c). Upon request of a party, the ALJ may stay proceedings for a reasonable period pending completion of discovery if the ALJ determines that a party would not be able to make the submissions required by § 150.437 without discovery. The parties should attempt to resolve any discovery issues informally before seeking an order from the ALJ.
(b) Discovery devices may include requests for production of documents, requests for admission, interrogatories, depositions, and stipulations. The ALJ orders interrogatories or depositions only if these are the only means to develop the record adequately on an issue that the ALJ must resolve to decide the case.
(c) Each discovery request must be responded to within 30 days of receipt, unless that period of time is extended for good cause by the ALJ.
(d) A party to whom a discovery request is directed may object in writing for any of the following reasons:
(1) Compliance with the request is unduly burdensome or expensive.
(2) Compliance with the request will unduly delay the proceedings.
(3) The request seeks information that is wholly outside of any matter in dispute.
(4) The request seeks privileged information. Any party asserting a claim of privilege must sufficiently describe the information or document being withheld to show that the privilege applies. If an asserted privilege applies to only part of a document, a party withholding the entire document must state why the nonprivileged part is not segregable.
(e) Any motion to compel discovery must be filed within 10 days after receipt of objections to the party's discovery request, within 10 days after the time for response to the discovery request has elapsed if no response is received, or within 10 days after receipt of an incomplete response to the discovery request. The motion must be reasonably specific as to the information or document sought and must state its relevance to the issues in the case.
(a) Within 60 days of its receipt of the acknowledgment provided for in § 150.431, the respondent must file the following with the ALJ:
(1) A statement of its arguments concerning CMS's notice of assessment (respondent's brief), including citations to the respondent's hearing exhibits provided in accordance with paragraph (a)(2) of this section. The brief may not address factual or legal bases for the assessment that the respondent did not identify as disputed in its request for hearing or in an amendment to that request permitted by the ALJ.
(2) All documents (including any affidavits) supporting its arguments, tabbed and organized chronologically and accompanied by an indexed list identifying each document (respondent's proposed hearing exhibits).
(3) A statement regarding whether there is a need for an in-person hearing and, if so, a list of proposed witnesses and a summary of their expected testimony that refers to any factual dispute to which the testimony will relate.
(4) Any stipulations or admissions.
(b) Within 30 days of its receipt of the respondent's submission required by paragraph (a) of this section, CMS will file the following with the ALJ:
(1) A statement responding to the respondent's brief, including the respondent's proposed hearing exhibits, if appropriate. The statement may include citations to CMS's proposed hearing exhibits submitted in accordance with paragraph (b)(2) of this section.
(2) Any documents supporting CMS's response not already submitted as part of the respondent's proposed hearing exhibits, organized and indexed as indicated in paragraph (a)(2) of this section (CMS's proposed hearing exhibits).
(3) A statement regarding whether there is a need for an in-person hearing and, if so, a list of proposed witnesses and a summary of their expected testimony that refers to any factual dispute to which the testimony will relate.
(4) Any admissions or stipulations.
(c) Within 15 days of its receipt of CMS's submission required by paragraph (b) of this section, the respondent may file with the ALJ a reply to CMS's submission.
(a) Any proposed hearing exhibit submitted by a party in accordance with § 150.437 is deemed part of the record unless the opposing party raises an objection to that exhibit and the ALJ rules to exclude it from the record. An objection must be raised either in writing prior to the prehearing conference provided for in § 150.441 or at the prehearing conference. The ALJ may require a party to submit the original hearing exhibit on his or her own motion or in response to a challenge to the authenticity of a proposed hearing exhibit.
(b) A party may introduce a proposed hearing exhibit following the times for submission specified in § 150.437 only if the party establishes to the satisfaction of the ALJ that it could not have produced the exhibit earlier and that the opposing party will not be prejudiced.
An ALJ may schedule one or more prehearing conferences (generally conducted by telephone) on the ALJ's own motion or at the request of either party for the purpose of any of the following:
(a) Hearing argument on any outstanding discovery request.
(b) Establishing a schedule for any supplements to the submissions required by § 150.437 because of information obtained through discovery.
(c) Hearing argument on a motion.
(d) Discussing whether the parties can agree to submission of the case on a stipulated record.
(e) Establishing a schedule for an in-person, telephone, or video teleconference hearing, including setting deadlines for the submission of written direct testimony or for the written reports of experts.
(f) Discussing whether the issues for a hearing can be simplified or narrowed.
(g) Discussing potential settlement of the case.
(h) Discussing any other procedural or substantive issues.
(a) In all cases before an ALJ -
(1) CMS has the burden of coming forward with evidence sufficient to establish a prima facie case;
(2) The respondent has the burden of coming forward with evidence in response, once CMS has established a prima facie case; and
(3) CMS has the burden of persuasion regarding facts material to the assessment; and
(4) The respondent has the burden of persuasion regarding facts relating to an affirmative defense.
(b) The preponderance of the evidence standard applies to all cases before the ALJ.
(a) The ALJ will determine the admissibility of evidence.
(b) Except as provided in this part, the ALJ will not be bound by the Federal Rules of Evidence. However, the ALJ may apply the Federal Rules of Evidence where appropriate; for example, to exclude unreliable evidence.
(c) The ALJ excludes irrelevant or immaterial evidence.
(d) Although relevant, evidence may be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or by considerations of undue delay or needless presentation of cumulative evidence.
(e) Although relevant, evidence is excluded if it is privileged under Federal law.
(f) Evidence concerning offers of compromise or settlement made in this action will be inadmissible to the extent provided in the Federal Rules of Evidence.
(g) Evidence of acts other than those at issue in the instant case is admissible in determining the amount of any civil money penalty if those acts are used under §§ 150.317 and 150.323 of this part to consider the entity's prior record of compliance, or to show motive, opportunity, intent, knowledge, preparation, identity, or lack of mistake. This evidence is admissible regardless of whether the acts occurred during the statute of limitations period applicable to the acts that constitute the basis for liability in the case and regardless of whether CMS's notice sent in accordance with §§ 150.307 and 150.343 referred to them.
(h) The ALJ will permit the parties to introduce rebuttal witnesses and evidence.
(i) All documents and other evidence offered or taken for the record will be open to examination by all parties, unless the ALJ orders otherwise for good cause shown.
(j) The ALJ may not consider evidence regarding the willingness and ability to enter into and successfully complete a corrective action plan when that evidence pertains to matters occurring after CMS's notice under § 150.307.
(a) Any testimony that is taken in-person by telephone, or by video teleconference is recorded and transcribed. The ALJ may order that other proceedings in a case, such as a prehearing conference or oral argument of a motion, be recorded and transcribed.
(b) The transcript of any testimony, exhibits and other evidence that is admitted, and all pleadings and other documents that are filed in the case constitute the record for purposes of an ALJ decision.
(c) For good cause, the ALJ may order appropriate redactions made to the record.
Generally, each party is responsible for 50 percent of the transcript cost. Where there is an intervenor, the ALJ determines what percentage of the transcript cost is to be paid for by the intervenor.
Each party is entitled to file proposed findings and conclusions, and supporting reasons, in a posthearing brief. The ALJ will establish the schedule by which such briefs must be filed. The ALJ may direct the parties to brief specific questions in a case and may impose page limits on posthearing briefs. Additionally, the ALJ may allow the parties to file posthearing reply briefs.
The ALJ will issue an initial agency decision based only on the record and on applicable law; the decision will contain findings of fact and conclusions of law. The ALJ's decision is final and appealable after 30 days unless it is modified or vacated under § 150.457.
(a) The ALJ may sanction a party or an attorney for failing to comply with an order or other directive or with a requirement of a regulation, for abandonment of a case, or for other actions that interfere with the speedy, orderly or fair conduct of the hearing. Any sanction that is imposed will relate reasonably to the severity and nature of the failure or action.
(b) A sanction may include any of the following actions:
(1) In the case of failure or refusal to provide or permit discovery, drawing negative fact inferences or treating such failure or refusal as an admission by deeming the matter, or certain facts, to be established.
(2) Prohibiting a party from introducing certain evidence or otherwise advocating a particular claim or defense.
(3) Striking pleadings, in whole or in part.
(4) Staying the case.
(5) Dismissing the case.
(6) Entering a decision by default.
(7) Refusing to consider any motion or other document that is not filed in a timely manner.
(8) Taking other appropriate action.
(a) The Administrator of CMS (which for purposes of this subsection may include his or her delegate), at his or her discretion, may review in whole or in part any initial agency decision issued under § 150.453.
(b) The Administrator may decide to review an initial agency decision if it appears from a preliminary review of the decision (or from a preliminary review of the record on which the initial agency decision was based, if available at the time) that:
(1) The ALJ made an erroneous interpretation of law or regulation.
(2) The initial agency decision is not supported by substantial evidence.
(3) The ALJ has incorrectly assumed or denied jurisdiction or extended his or her authority to a degree not provided for by statute or regulation.
(4) The ALJ decision requires clarification, amplification, or an alternative legal basis for the decision.
(5) The ALJ decision otherwise requires modification, reversal, or remand.
(c) Within 30 days of the date of the initial agency decision, the Administrator will mail a notice advising the respondent of any intent to review the decision in whole or in part.
(d) Within 30 days of receipt of a notice that the Administrator intends to review an initial agency decision, the respondent may submit, in writing, to the Administrator any arguments in support of, or exceptions to, the initial agency decision.
(e) This submission of the information indicated in paragraph (d) of this section must be limited to issues the Administrator has identified in his or her notice of intent to review, if the Administrator has given notice of an intent to review the initial agency decision only in part. A copy of this submission must be sent to the other party.
(f) After receipt of any submissions made pursuant to paragraph (d) of this section and any additional submissions for which the Administrator may provide, the Administrator will affirm, reverse, modify, or remand the initial agency decision. The Administrator will mail a copy of his or her decision to the respondent.
(g) The Administrator's decision will be based on the record on which the initial agency decision was based (as forwarded by the ALJ to the Administrator) and any materials submitted pursuant to paragraphs (b), (d), and (f) of this section.
(h) The Administrator's decision may rely on decisions of any courts and other applicable law, whether or not cited in the initial agency decision.
(a) Filing of an action for review. Any responsible entity against whom a final order imposing a civil money penalty is entered may obtain review in the United States District Court for any district in which the entity is located or in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia by doing the following:
(1) Filing a notice of appeal in that court within 30 days from the date of a final order.
(2) Simultaneously sending a copy of the notice of appeal by registered mail to CMS.
(b) Certification of administrative record. CMS promptly certifies and files with the court the record upon which the penalty was assessed.
(c) Standard of review. The findings of CMS and the ALJ may not be set aside unless they are found to be unsupported by substantial evidence, as provided by 5 U.S.C. 706(2)(E).
If any entity fails to pay an assessment after it becomes a final order, or after the court has entered final judgment in favor of CMS, CMS refers the matter to the Attorney General, who brings an action against the entity in the appropriate United States district court to recover the amount assessed.
(a) Any funds collected under § 150.461 are paid to CMS.
(b) The funds are available without appropriation until expended.
(c) The funds may be used only for the purpose of enforcing the PHS Act requirements for which the penalty was assessed.