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Orlando Health Central, Inc. v. Agency for Health Care Administration

Florida Court of Appeals, First District

August 3, 2018

Orlando Health Central, Inc., Appellant,
v.
Agency for Health Care Administration, Adventist Health System/Sunbelt, Inc., d/b/a Florida Hospital, and Central Florida Health Services, LLC, Appellees.

         Not final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.

          On appeal from Division of Administrative Hearings. Yolanda Y. Green, Administrative Law Judge.

          Karen A. Putnal and Jon C. Moyle of Moyle Law Firm, P.A., Tallahassee, for Appellant.

          Tracy Cooper George, Chief Appellate Counsel, and Amy E. Miles, Senior Attorney, Agency for Health Care Administration, Tallahassee, for Appellee Agency for Health Care Administration.

          Tiffany A. Roddenberry and Jerome W. Hoffman of Holland & Knight LLP, Tallahassee, for Appellee Adventist Health System/Sunbelt, Inc., d/b/a Florida Hospital.

          Stephen A. Ecenia, Tana D. Storey, Craig D. Miller, and Jennifer F. Hinson of Rutledge Ecenia, P.A., Tallahassee, for Appellee Central Florida Health Services, LLC.

          B.L. THOMAS, C. JUDGE

         This appeal concerns a rule challenge to the procedure through which healthcare providers apply for and challenge the award of a Certificate of Need, a written statement "evidencing community need for a new, converted, expanded, or otherwise significantly modified health care facility, health service, or hospice." § 408.032(3), Fla. Stat. (2017). The Agency for Health Care Administration is responsible for issuing or denying Certificates, and has adopted rules to implement the program. § 408.033(3), Fla. Stat. (2017); Chapter 59C, Fla. Admin. Code (2017).

         The Agency accepts and considers Certificate applications in "batching cycles," in which all applications seeking approval for the same type of healthcare facility or expansion are subject to "comparative review." § 408.039, Fla. Stat. (2017). When review is complete, the Agency issues a State Agency Action Report or Notice of Intent stating whether it will grant or deny each application, and this notice is published in the Florida Administrative Register. Id.

         Section 408.039(5)(c), Florida Statutes, states that applicants in the same batching cycle are entitled to a "comparative hearing" on their applications, in which the Agency comparatively reviews all pending applications. Section 408.039(5)(a) provides that applicants in the same batching cycle must request the hearing within twenty-one days from publication of the Notice of Intent or State Agency Action Report.

         In 1992, the Agency promulgated a rule, which states in pertinent part:

If a valid request for administrative hearing is timely filed challenging the noticed intended award of any certificate of need application in the batch, that challenged granted applicant shall have ten days from the date the notice of litigation is published in the Florida Administrative Register to file a petition challenging any or all other cobatched applications.

Fla. Admin. Code R. 59C-1.012(2)(a) (2017).

         The 1997 Legislature enacted section 408.0455, Florida ...


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