JUSTICE CLARK delivered the opinion of the court:
This appeal involves two consolidated cases. In the first case, which has been called "Senn Park I," the plaintiffs, three Illinois nursing-home facilities, sought a writ of mandamus in the circuit court of Cook County against the defendant, Jeffrey C. Miller, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Aid (the IDPA). The plaintiffs asked the circuit court to direct Miller to reimburse them for Medicaid services in accordance with the inflation-update procedure set forth in the Illinois State Medicaid plan which was in effect prior to January 1, 1980, rather than the procedure Miller adopted, which became effective January 1, 1980. The circuit court found that the new procedure was invalid and ordered the defendant to reimburse plaintiffs for their operating costs for services rendered after February 15, 1980 (the date the plaintiffs demanded repayment under the old procedure), using the prior method of computation. Both defendant and plaintiffs appealed to the appellate court. The plaintiffs
In "Senn Park II," the second case involved in this appeal, the plaintiffs filed a complaint for declaratory judgment in the circuit court of Cook County, asking the court to declare that Emergency Rule 4.14221, which was enacted by Miller after the judgment in Senn Park I, was void and of no effect because there was no emergency as that term is defined in the Illinois Administrative Procedure Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 127, par. 1005.02) and because the rule was promulgated in violation of Federal notice requirements (42 C.F.R. sec. 447.205 (1979)). On December 30, 1980, the emergency rule in question was withdrawn. The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. The trial court, in its order granting defendant's motion for summary judgment, found that the emergency rule was valid, that the action was not moot because the rule was withdrawn, and that the plaintiffs had to bring their monetary claims in the Illinois Court of Claims. On appeal in the appellate court, the plaintiffs contended that the trial court erred in finding that the emergency rule was valid and that their monetary claims had to be brought in the Court of Claims. Defendant asserted that the matter was
The defendant filed a petition for leave to appeal in both of these cases, and they have been consolidated on appeal in this court.
Nursing-home care for needy residents of the State of Illinois is provided through Medicaid. The Medicaid program is a cooperative State and Federal program in which the State is partially reimbursed by the Federal government. The program is authorized under the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. sec. 1396 et seq.) and implemented in accordance with Federal regulations. Each State, in order to participate in the program, must have a State plan which is subject to the approval of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The IDPA must set reasonable rates of reimbursement for the participating nursing-home facilities, taking into account inflationary trends. The IDPA requires nursing-home facilities to submit annual cost reports which set forth the expenses of the facility for the fiscal year preceding the calendar rate year. The IDPA determines the reimbursable costs from these reports. Prior to January 1, 1980, the IDPA had calculated the inflation-update
On December 14, 1979, the IDPA sent the plaintiffs and the other participating nursing-home facilities copies of changes to the Medicaid plan which included an amended procedure for calculating the inflation-update factor whereby all available cost reports were compared. The IDPA published notice of the amended inflation-update procedure in the newspaper of widest circulation in each Illinois city with a population of 50,000 or more, from December 17, 1979, through December 24, 1979. The notice was not published in the Illinois Register, because it was refused by that publication. The record does not indicate why the Illinois Register refused the notice. The notice also did not provide an address where comments could be sent. On May 14, 1980, HHS approved the amended procedure, making it retroactive to January 1, 1980.
On February 14, 1980, plaintiffs received their first payments, which were computed according to the new inflation-update procedure. On February 15, 1980, plaintiffs demanded that the IDPA pay them in accordance with the previous procedure. Plaintiffs filed their complaint for a writ of mandamus in response to the IDPA's refusal to reimburse the nursing homes using the previous update procedure.
On appeal before this court in Senn Park I, defendant raises the same issues he raised in Senn Park I in the appellate court.
The first issue we will address is whether the amendment to the State's Medicaid plan is a rule within the meaning of the Illinois Administrative Procedure Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 127, par. 1001 et seq.). We agree with the circuit and appellate courts that the amendment
Under the Act, a rule is defined as follows:
There is no doubt that the amended inflation-update procedure is an agency statement of general applicability. It does implement a policy of the agency and is not a statement dealing only with the internal management of the agency. The rule does affect the rights and procedures available to people and entities outside the agency.
The defendant asserts that the relationship between the State and the Federal government in creating a workable Medicaid plan somehow causes the amendment in this case to be something other than a rule. In his brief the defendant states:
We agree with the appellate court that the State plan is not what is at issue, but rather a rule changing the State plan. The defendant has not shown in what way he changed the plan to comply with Federal law. He
It is clear from section 5.01 of the Illinois Administrative Procedure Act that the Act is intended to give interested persons the opportunity to submit their views and comments on intended rule changes, in that section 5.01 specifies that the "agency shall consider all submissions received." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 127, par. 1005.01.) While there are certain statutory exceptions to the notice and comment requirements for the adoption of rules, we believe those exceptions are of a limited nature and should be appropriately applied.
Section 5(c) of the Illinois Administrative Procedure Act provides:
The appellate court analyzed the contracts exception and correctly stated:
We believe the more convincing reasons for holding that the amended inflation-update procedure is within the purview of the Illinois Administrative Procedure Act were stated in the appellate court opinion, wherein it held:
We also agree with the appellate court that defendant's contention that the amended update procedure is within the agency-management exception is without
The next issue we will address is defendant's assertion that, since plaintiffs had actual notice of the change in the procedure, they cannot challenge the IDPA's failure to comply with the publication requirements of the Illinois Administrative Procedure Act. The appellate court disagreed with defendant's assertion, and we also disagree. To hold that actual knowledge is sufficient to preclude a party's challenge to an agency's failure to comply with the rulemaking requirements of the Illinois Administrative Procedure Act would make the notice and comment requirement illusory.
Since we believe that the amended procedure was a rule within the meaning of the Illinois Administrative Procedure Act and since the agency did not, and does not contend it did, follow the proper procedure for adoption of a rule, the rule is invalid.
We also believe the circuit and appellate courts were correct in their finding that defendant did not comply with Federal regulations in changing the inflation-update procedure. At the time the defendant attempted to change the update procedure, the Federal notice requirement provided:
There was also a provision which required that notice be given "at least 60 days before the proposed effective
As the appellate court correctly noted, the defendant did not comply with those requirements or the requirements as they were later amended. The amended requirements also specified that the notice had to "give an address where written comments may be sent and reviewed by the public." (42 C.F.R. sec. 447.205(c)(5) (1982).) So, regardless of which requirements are applied, the circuit and appellate courts properly concluded that the amended inflation-update procedure which would decrease Medicaid payments to the plaintiffs by 1% or more during the 12 months following the effective date of the change was not changed in compliance with Federal notice and comment requirements.
Plaintiffs contend that since the amended inflationupdate procedure was never valid, they should be reimbursed using the old procedure from January 1, 1980, not beginning with services rendered on February 15, 1980, the day plaintiffs demanded payment on the basis of the old procedure. We agree. The rule was invalid from January 1, 1980, until February 15, 1980, so that payment for that time period should not be made in accordance with the invalid rule.
Defendant's argument that a writ of mandamus should not have issued in this case is erroneous. In People ex ref. Callahan v. Whealan (1934), 356 Ill. 328, 334, this court stated:
We believe plaintiffs have established a clear and undoubted right to be reimbursed under the old inflation
Therefore, as to Senn Park I we affirm the appellate court.
Senn Park II, as was stated earlier in this opinion, involves Emergency Rule 4.14221, which the defendant promulgated allegedly in response to the circuit court's decision and order entered in Senn Park I.
On appeal before this court in Senn Park II, the defendant raises three issues: first, whether the appellate court erred in finding that the defendant had no proper basis for promulgating an emergency rule in response to the adverse decision of the circuit court in Senn Park I; second, whether the appellate court erred in concluding that the defendant had violated Federal notice and comment requirements; and, lastly, whether the appellate court erred in reversing the trial court's finding that plaintiffs' monetary claims had to be brought in the Court of Claims.
We will first address the issue of whether Emergency Rule 4.14221, which was later withdrawn, was valid. Section 5.02 of the Illinois Administrative Procedure Act sets forth the instances when emergency rulemaking is proper and governs the manner in which these rules should be promulgated. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 127, par. 1005.02.) Section 5.02 provides:
The defendant gave two reasons why he believed an emergency situation existed. First, he contended that the court's decision in Senn Park I created a risk of loss of Federal matching funds. The second reason, which is related to the first, was that the emergency rule was necessary to "assure that inflation update factors are not overstated due to short term fluctuations and prevent the system from providing a disincentive to cost containment. "
We do not believe that the court's decision in Senn Park I created a risk of loss of Federal matching funds and that this alleged risk of loss reasonably constituted a threat to the public interest, safety or welfare. As the appellate court stated in its opinion:
We agree with the appellate court that the defendant's belief that there was a risk of loss of Federal matching funds, besides the situation being self-created, was not a reasonable fear under the circumstances.
The appellate court further pointed out that HHS could only withhold matching funds after notice and an opportunity for a hearing. Defendant never alleged that the inflation-update procedure which existed prior to his change was ever disapproved of by HHS, and since HHS had approved of the original procedure it would be highly unlikely that HHS would find that the old procedure did not comply with Federal regulations. We therefore conclude that the defendant's assertion that there existed a risk of loss of Federal matching funds did not reasonably constitute a threat to the public interest, safety or welfare.
Defendant's second reason, that the emergency rule was necessary to assure that inflation-update factors were not overstated due to short-term fluctuations, also does not comport with the definition of an emergency as that term is defined in section 5.02. We agree with the
If in fact an emergency situation did exist, then the defendant would not have had to comply with the Federal notice and comment procedures. Since we have determined that no emergency existed and since the defendant does not deny that he failed to comply with the notice and comment procedures, we affirm the holding of the appellate court that the defendant failed to comply with the Federal notice and comment procedures.
The last issue raised is whether the appellate court erred in reversing the trial court's finding that plaintiffs' monetary claims must be brought in the Court of Claims. We now affirm the appellate court and hold that the circuit court was incorrect in finding that plaintiffs' monetary claims must be brought in the Court of Claims.
As the appellate court noted, the determination of whether a suit is brought against the State and thus barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity does not depend on the identity of the formal parties, but rather on the issues raised and the relief sought. 118 Ill.App.3d 733, 746, citing Moline Tool Co. v. Department of Revenue (1951), 410 Ill. 35, 37; Betts v. Department of Revenue (1979), 78 Ill.App.3d 102, 107.
Section 4 of article XIII of the 1970 Constitution abolished sovereign immunity by providing: "Except as the General Assembly may provide by law, sovereign immunity in this State is abolished." (Ill. Const. 1970, art.
Under the Court of Claims Act "[t]he court shall have exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine the following matters:
In Boards of Education v. Cronin (1977), 54 Ill.App.3d 584, the court stated:
In Sass v. Kramer (1978), 72 Ill.2d 485, 491-92, this court stated:
In the instant case, suit was filed against Jeffrey C. Miller, the Director of Public Aid. Although Miller was not acting under an unconstitutional statute, he did act in excess of his authority by changing the inflation-update procedure without complying with statutory prerequisites. We believe that in this case, where the defendant officer acted in excess of his statutory authority, the rights of the plaintiffs to be free from the consequences of his action outweigh the interest of the State which is served by the sovereign immunity doctrine. The purpose of the doctrine of sovereign immunity is that it "protects the State from interference in its performance of the functions of government and preserves its control over State coffers." (S.J. Groves & Sons Co. v. State (1982), 93 Ill.2d 397, 401.) In this case, the State cannot justifiably claim interference with its functions when the act complained of by plaintiffs is unauthorized by statute.
In Bio-Medical Laboratories, Inc. v. Trainor (1977), 68 Ill.2d 540, the plaintiff was challenging the defendant's authority to suspend it from participating in the Medicaid program. In Bio-Medical Laboratories, Inc., this court stated:
In Bio-Medical Laboratories, this court went on to hold that in that case injunctive relief was the appropriate remedy because the threatened suspension had not yet taken place, and "[a]ny subsequent action against the State by the plaintiff for damages resulting from an unlawful suspension would certainly raise issues of governmental immunity." 68 Ill.2d 540, 549.
We believe that in the instant case, where the plaintiffs sought a writ of mandamus against Miller personally to direct him to pay them in accordance with the prior approved State plan, which was his duty, the action was properly brought in the circuit court. We agree with the appellate court and its reasoning when it stated:
For the reasons stated, we affirm the appellate court in Senn Park I and Senn Park II.