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App Div: Concerned Home Care Providers v. NYS

App Div: Concerned Home Care Providers v. NYS

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Published by Casey Seiler
Released July 3, 2013
Released July 3, 2013

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Published by: Casey Seiler on Jul 03, 2013
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State of New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division Third Judicial Department
Decided and Entered: July 3, 2013515737________________________________In the Matter of CONCERNED HOMECARE PROVIDERS, INC., et al., Appellants,vOPINION AND ORDERSTATE OF NEW YORK et al.,Respondents.________________________________Calendar Date: May 21, 2013Before: Rose, J.P., Spain, McCarthy and Egan Jr., JJ.__________Nixon Peabody, LLP, Albany (Philip Rosenberg of counsel),for appellants.Eric T. Schneiderman, Attorney General, Albany (Jeffrey W.Lang of counsel), for respondents.O'Connell & Aronowitz, Albany (Christine Lynn Johnston ofcounsel), for New York Association of Health Care, amicus curiae.Nixon Peabody, LLP, Albany (Peter J. Millock of counsel),for Home Care Association of New York State, Inc., amicus curiae.Levy Ratner, PC, New York City (David M. Slutsky ofcounsel), for Juana Fuentes and others, amici curiae.__________McCarthy, J. Appeal from an order and judgment of the Supreme Court(McDonough, J.), entered September 20, 2012 in Albany County,which, in a combined proceeding pursuant to CPLR article 78 andaction for declaratory judgment, among other things, granted
-2-515737respondents' motion for summary judgment dismissing thepetition/complaint. As part of its effort to improve the quality of care forNew Yorkers who receive home health care services, theLegislature enacted Public Health Law § 3614-c in 2011. Commonlyknown as the Wage Parity Law, the statute conditions Medicaidreimbursement for home health care services provided in New YorkCity and the surrounding counties of Westchester, Suffolk andNassau upon a home health care agency's certification that thehome care aides who render the services are paid a minimum wage.That wage is determined by reference to New York City's Living Wage Law (see NYC Admin Code § 6-109 [b] [1] [a], [b] [3]), whichsets a minimum wage and health benefits supplement rate that mustbe paid by any City service contractor or subcontractor to itsemployees who actually provide home care services. By referringto the New York City statute, the Wage Parity Law aims to bringtotal compensation for Medicaid-reimbursed home care aides in themetropolitan New York area into line with compensation paid toaides who are under contract with New York City, therebyfurthering the legislative purpose of stabilizing the workforce,reducing turnover, and enhancing recruitment and retention ofhome care workers.
Petitioners are licensed home care service agencies and anot-for-profit trade association comprised of service providers.They commenced this combined CPLR article 78 proceeding andaction for declaratory judgment challenging both theconstitutionality of the Wage Parity Law and the interpretationof the law by the Department of Health (hereinafter DOH), andseeking a permanent injunction prohibiting its enforcement. Uponthe parties' cross motions for summary judgment, Supreme Courtgranted summary judgment in favor of respondents and denied allrelief requested by petitioners. Petitioners now appeal.Public Health Law § 3614-c phases in parity over a period
of several years by, among other things, setting compensationrates at a gradually increasing percentage of the ratesestablished in the Living Wage Law.
-3-515737Turning first to petitioners' constitutional arguments, wenote that "[l]egislative enactments enjoy a strong presumption ofconstitutionality . . . [and] parties challenging a duly enactedstatute face the initial burden of demonstrating the statute'sinvalidity beyond a reasonable doubt" (Overstock.com, Inc. v NewYork State Dept. of Taxation & Fin., 20 NY3d 586, 593 [2013][internal quotation marks and citation omitted]; see CatholicCharities of Diocese of Albany v Serio, 28 AD3d 115, 120 [2006],affd 7 NY3d 510 [2006], cert denied 552 US 816 [2007]). Here,petitioners first contend that by tying the minimum wagenecessary to receive Medicaid reimbursement to New York City'sLiving Wage Law, the Legislature has improperly delegated itslegislative authority to New York City in violation of NYConstitution, article III, § 1.
 We find no improper delegation. The Legislature hasauthority over the Medicaid program (see 42 USC § 1396 et seq.;Social Services Law § 363 et seq.; Matter of Medicon DiagnosticLabs. v Perales, 74 NY2d 539, 545 [1989]), and has chosen toaddress a compelling state interest in stabilizing wage rates forhome care aides in the metropolitan New York area by linkingreimbursement in the target geographic area to the minimum wagelaw established by the City located within that area that employsthe majority of home care workers. In enacting the Wage ParityLaw, the Legislature did not delegate rulemaking, policy orregulatory authority over the Medicaid program to New York City(see People v Parker, 41 NY2d 21, 27-28 [1976]; Matter of Levinev Whalen, 39 NY2d 510, 515 [1976]; Matter of Mooney v Cohen, 272NY 33, 37 [1936]; Darweger v Staats, 267 NY 290, 308 [1935]), butrather simply referenced New York City's Living Wage Law as acompensation baseline, which furthers the Legislature's policygoal of achieving wage parity. We find this to be an appropriateexercise of the Legislature's lawmaking powers. Furthermore,because the decision to condition Medicaid reimbursement on aminimum wage that is determined by reference to the New York Cityminimum wage is rationally related to the legislative purpose,NY Constitution, article III, § 1 provides: "The
legislative power of this state shall be vested in the senate andassembly."

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