NORRIS, Circuit Judge:
Appellant Marina Mercy Hospital (the Hospital) is a qualified "provider of services" under the Medicare program.
As a "provider of services", the Hospital is entitled to reimbursement for the "reasonable cost" of hospital services provided to Medicare beneficiaries. 42 U.S.C. §§ 1395f(b), 1395x(v).
As authorized by statute, the Hospital appealed to the Provider Reimbursement Review Board (PRRB). 42 U.S.C. § 1395oo(a). The PRRB affirmed the disallowance. The Hospital's administrative remedies were exhausted when the Secretary declined to exercise his discretionary power of review of the PRRB's decision. Id. § 1395oo(f)(1).
The Hospital brought this action in the district court seeking judicial review of the administrative decision disallowing reimbursement for amounts the Hospital paid MMC in excess of MMC's costs. The district court affirmed the administrative decision on the ground there was substantial evidence to support the administrative finding that MMC was an organization "related to" the Hospital within the meaning of 42 C.F.R. § 405.427.
An organization may be "related to the provider" by either "common ownership or control." These terms are defined in 42 C.F.R. § 405.427(b):
We agree with the district court that there is substantial evidence that MMC is related to the Hospital by both common ownership and control as those terms are defined in § 405.427(b).
Given that Taylor and Born are the sole owners of MMC, the question of common ownership turns on whether Taylor and Born's 20.46% ownership of the limited partnership interests in the Hospital was significant under the circumstances. Appellant concedes that, under the applicable regulation, possession of a majority ownership interest is not required. How large a minority interest is necessary to constitute "significant ownership" cannot be rigidly defined as a fixed percentage, such as 40%, 30% or even 20%, but must be a function of all the facts of the case, including how widely dispersed the remaining interests are.
There is also substantial evidence to support the PRRB's finding that MMC and the Hospital were under the "common control" of Taylor and Born. MMC was the general partner of the Hospital. Taylor and Born, as sole owners of MMC, effectively possessed the general partner's broad powers to manage the business of the Hospital. The Partnership Agreement, which gave MMC "full charge of the management, conduct and operation of the Partnership business in all respects and in all matters," was clearly not intended to limit the general management powers vested in a general partner by California law. See Cal.Corp.Code §§ 15507, 15509 (West 1977 and Supp.1980). Such broad management powers, standing alone, constitute substantial evidence of power "significantly to influence or direct the actions or policies of an organization or institution." 42 C.F.R. § 405.427(b)(3). Accord, Fallston General Hospital v. Harris, 481 F.Supp. 1066, 1068-69 (D.Md.1979). In this case, the management powers vested in Taylor and Born as owners
The Hospital argues that Taylor and Born do not "control" the Hospital because their minority voting power in the limited partnership is insufficient, standing alone, to control the vote on the size of MMC's management fee. This argument is founded upon an unduly narrow reading of the regulation. The regulation, which speaks broadly of control as power to "influence the actions or policies of the organization," has reasonably been interpreted by the Secretary as requiring less than the voting power necessary to decide every partnership question such as the size of the management fee.
Finally, the Hospital contends that the Medicare statute entitles it to reimbursement for all reasonable costs, 42 U.S.C. § 1395f(b), and that its payments for MMC's management services were in fact reasonable even though they exceeded MMC's costs in providing the services. The Hospital "does not contend that the related organizations principle is [itself] inconsistent with the [provisions and] objectives of the Medicare Act but, rather, that its application in this case is in violation of the statute and regulations." Appellant's Brief at 23 (emphasis in original). This argument would have us ignore the regulation in favor of an adjudication of the reasonableness of the specific costs at issue. To do so would defeat the very purpose of the regulation.
Particularly in a program as complex and ripe with potential for abuse as Medicare, the Secretary has broad discretion to control excessive costs by adopting general prophylactic rules which, despite their inherent imprecision, eliminate the need for a cumbersome and expensive process of adjudicating item-by-item the reasonableness of costs. See Fairfax Hospital Ass'n, Inc. v. Califano, 585 F.2d 602, 606-07 (4th Cir. 1978). Section 405.427 is just such a prophylactic rule. Medical Center v. Harris, 628 F.2d 1113 at 1119 (8th Cir. 1980). Hence, in light of the Hospital's concession that the regulation is valid, the sole question raised by its appeal is whether there is substantial evidence to support the administrative finding that MMC is "related to" the Hospital within the meaning of § 405.427. In answering that question in the affirmative, we moot the issue whether MMC's management fees were in fact reasonable. Since it is "related to" the Hospital, any charge in excess of its actual cost is per se unreasonable under the regulation.
42 C.F.R. § 405.427(a) (1979) (emphasis added).
The rationale for this regulation is set forth in sub-section (c)(2):
42 C.F.R. § 405.427(c)(2) (1979).