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SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND
HUMAN SERVICES, PETITIONER v.
AU- BURN REGIONAL MEDICAL
CENTER et al.
on writ of certiorari to the united states
court of appeals for the district of columbia circuit
[January 22, 2013]
Justice Ginsburg delivered the opinion of the
This case concerns the time within which health
care providers may file an administrative appeal from the initial
determination of the reimbursement due them for inpatient services
rendered to Medicare beneficiaries. Government contractors, called
fiscal intermediaries, receive cost reports annually from care
providers and notify them of the reimbursement amount for which
they qualify. A provider dissatisfied with the fiscal
intermediary’s determination may appeal to an administrative
body named the Provider Reimbursement Review Board (PRRB or Board).
The governing statute, §602(h)(l)(D), 97Stat. 165, 42 U. S. C.
(a)(3), sets a 180-day limit for filing appeals
from the fiscal intermediary to the PRRB. By a regulation
promulgated in 1974, the Secretary of the Department of Health and
Human Services (HHS) authorized the Board to extend the 180-day
limitation, for good cause, up to three years.[1
The providers in this case are hospitals who
appealed to the PRRB more than ten years after expiration of the
180-day statutory deadline. They assert that the Secretary’s
failure to disclose information that made the fiscal
intermediary’s reimbursement calculation incorrect prevented
them from earlier appealing to the Board. Three positions have been
briefed and argued regarding the time for providers’ appeals
to the PRRB. First, a Court-appointed amicus curiae
urged that the 180-day limitation is “jurisdictional,”
and therefore cannot be enlarged at all by agency or court. Second,
the Government maintains that the Secretary has the prerogative to
set an outer limit of three years for appeals to the Board. And
third, the hos- pitals argue that the doctrine of equitable tolling
applies, stopping the 180-day clock during the time the Secretary
concealed the information that made the fiscal interme-
diary’s reimbursement determinations incorrect.
We hold that the statutory 180-day limitation is
not “jurisdictional,” and that the Secretary reasonably
construed the statute to permit a regulation extending the time for
a provider’s appeal to the PRRB to three years. We further
hold that the presumption in favor of equitable tolling does not
apply to administrative appeals of the kind here at issue.
The Medicare program covers certain inpatient
services that hospitals provide to Medicare beneficiaries.
Providers are reimbursed at a fixed amount per patient, regardless
of the actual operating costs they incur in rendering these
services. But the total reimbursement amount is adjusted upward for
hospitals that serve a disproportionate share of low-income
patients. This adjustment is made because hospitals with an
unusually high percentage of low-income patients generally have
higher per-patient costs; such hospitals, Congress therefore found,
should receive higher reimbursement rates. See H. R. Rep. No.
99–241, pt. 1, p. 16 (1985). The amount of the
disproportionate share adjustment is determined in part by the
percentage of the patients served by the hospital who are eligible
for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments, a percentage
commonly called the SSI fraction. 42 U. S. C.
§1395ww(d) (2006 ed. and Supp. V).
At the end of each year, providers participating
in Medicare submit cost reports to contractors acting on behalf of
HHS known as fiscal intermediaries. Also at year end, the Centers
for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) cal- culates the SSI
fraction for each eligible hospital and submits that number to the
intermediary for that hospital. Using these numbers to determine
the total payment due, the intermediary issues a Notice of Program
Reimbursement (NPR) informing the provider how much it will be paid
for the year.
If a provider is dissatisfied with the
intermediary’s re- imbursement determination, the statute
gives it the right to file a request for a hearing before the PRRB
within 180 days of receiving the NPR. §1395oo
(2006 ed.) In 1974, the Secretary promulgated a regulation, after
notice and comment rulemaking, permitting the Board to extend the
180-day time limit upon a showing of good cause; the regulation
further provides that “no such extension shall be granted by
the Board if such request is filed more than 3 years after the date
the notice of the intermediary’s determination is mailed to
the provider.” 39 Fed. Reg. 34517 (1974) (codified in 42 CFR
For many years, CMS released only the results of
its SSI fraction calculations and not the underlying data.[3
] The Baystate Medical Center—a
hospital not party to this case—timely appealed the
calculation of its SSI fraction for each year from 1993 through
1996. Eventually, the PRRB determined that CMS had omitted several
categories of SSI data from its calculations and was using a flawed
process to determine the number of low-income beneficiaries treated
by hospitals. These errors caused a systematic undercalculation of
the disproportionate share adjustment, resulting in underpayments
to the providers. Baystate Medical Center
545 F. Supp. 2d 20, 26–30 (DC 2008); see id.,
57–58 (concluding that CMS failed to use “the best
The methodological errors revealed by the
decision would have yielded
similarly reduced payments to all providers for which CMS had
calculated an SSI fraction. In March 2006, the Board’s
decision in the Baystate
case was made public. Within 180
days, the hospitals in this case filed a complaint with the Board
seeking to challenge their disproportionate share adjustments for
the years 1987 through 1994. The hospitals acknowledged that their
challenges, unlike Baystate’s timely contest, were more than
a decade out of time. But equitable tolling of the limitations
period was in order, they urged, due to CMS’s failure to
inform the hospitals that their SSI fractions had been based on
The PRRB held that it lacked jurisdiction over
the hospitals’ complaint, reasoning that it had no equitable
powers save those legislation or regulation might confer, and that
the Secretary’s regulation permitted it to excuse late
appeals only for good cause, with three years as the outer limit.
On judicial review, the District Court dismissed the
hospitals’ claims for relief, holding that nothing in the
statute suggests that “Congress intended to authorize
equitable tolling.” 686 F. Supp. 2d 55, 70 (DC 2010).
The Court of Appeals reversed. 642 F.3d 1145
(CADC 2011). It relied on the presumption that statutory
limitations periods are generally subject to equitable tolling and
reasoned that “ ‘the same rebuttable presumption
of equitable tolling applicable to suits against private defendants
should also apply to suits against the United
States.’ ” Id.,
at 1148 (quoting
v. Department of Veterans Affairs
, 498 U.S.
, 95–96 (1990)). The presumption applies to the 180-day
time limit for provider appeals from re- imbursement
determinations, the Court of Appeals held, finding nothing in the
statutory provision for PRRB review indicating that Congress
intended to disallow equi- table tolling. 642 F. 3d, at
We granted the Secretary’s petition for
certiorari, 567 U. S. ___ (2012), to resolve a conflict among
the Courts of Appeals over whether the 180-day time limit in 42
U. S. C. §1395oo
(a)(3) constricts the
Board’s jurisdiction. Compare 642 F.3d 1145 (case below);
Western Medical Enterprises, Inc.
F.2d 1376, 1379–1380 (CA9 1986) (180-day limit is not
jurisdictional and the Secretary may extend it for good cause),
with Alacare Home Health Servs., Inc.
891 F.2d 850, 855–856 (CA11 1990) (statute of limitations is
jurisdictional and the Secretary lacked authority to promulgate
good-cause exception); St. Joseph’s Hospital of
, 786 F.2d 848, 852–853 (CA8
1986) (same). Beyond the jurisdictional inquiry,[4
] the Secretary asked us to determine
whether the Court of Appeals erred in concluding that equitable
tolling applies to providers’ Medicare reimbursement appeals
to the PRRB, notwithstanding the Secretary’s regulation
barring such appeals after three years.
Characterizing a rule as jurisdictional
renders it unique in our adversarial system. Objections to a
tribunal’s ju- risdiction can be raised at any time, even by
a party that once conceded the tribunal’s subject-matter
jurisdiction over the controversy. Tardy jurisdictional objections
can therefore result in a waste of adjudicatory resources and can
disturbingly disarm litigants. See Henderson
, 562 U. S. ___, ___ (2011) (slip op., at 5);
v. Y & H Corp.
, 514 (2006). With these untoward consequences in mind,
“we have tried in recent cases to bring some discipline to
the use” of the term “jurisdiction.”
, 562 U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 5); see also
v. Citizens for Better Environment
, 90 (1998) (jurisdiction has been a “word of many, too
many, meanings” (internal quotation marks omitted)).
To ward off profligate use of the term
“jurisdiction,” we have adopted a “readily
administrable bright line” for determining whether to
classify a statutory limitation as jurisdictional. Arbaugh
546 U. S., at 516. We inquire whether Congress has
“clearly state[d]” that the rule is jurisdictional;
absent such a clear statement, we have cautioned, “courts
should treat the restriction as nonjurisdictional in
at 515–516; see also
, 565 U. S. ___, ___ (2012)
(slip op., at 6); Henderson
, 562 U. S.,
(slip op., at 6). This is not to say that Congress must incant
magic words in order to speak clearly. We consider “context,
including this Court’s inter- pretations of similar
provisions in many years past,” as probative of whether
Congress intended a particular provision to rank as jurisdictional.
Reed Elsevier, Inc.
, 559 U.S.
, 168 (2010); see also John R. Sand & Gravel Co.
v. United States
, 552 U.S.
, 133–134 (2008).
We reiterate what it would mean were we to type
the gov- erning statute, 42 U. S. C.
(a)(3), “jurisdictional.” Under no
circumstance could providers engage PRRB re- view more than 180
days after notice of the fiscal inter- mediary’s final
determination. Not only could there be no equitable tolling. The
Secretary’s regulation providing for a good-cause extension,
at 3, would fall as well.
The language Congress used hardly reveals a
design to preclude any regulatory extension. Section
(a)(3) instructs that a provider of services
“may obtain a hearing” by the Board regarding its
reimbursement amount if “such provider files a request for a
hearing within 180 days after notice of the intermediary’s
final determination.” This provision “does not speak in
jurisdictional terms.” Zipes
v. Trans World
, 455 U.S.
, 394 (1982). Indeed, it is less
“jurisdictional” in tone than the provision we held to
be nonjurisdictional in Henderson
. There, the statute
provided that a veteran seeking Veterans Court review of the
Department of Veterans Affairs’ determination of disability
file a notice of appeal
. . . within 120 days.” 562 U. S., at ___
(slip op., at 9) (quoting 38 U. S. C. §7266(a)
(emphasis added)). Section 1395oo
(a)(3), by contrast,
contains neither the mandatory word “shall” nor the
appellation “notice of appeal,” words with
jurisdictional import in the context of 28 U. S. C.
§2107’s limitations on the time for appeal from a
district court to a court of appeals. See Bowles
, 551 U.S.
, 214 (2007).
Key to our decision, we have repeatedly held
that filing deadlines ordinarily are not jurisdictional; indeed, we
have described them as “quintessential claim-processing
562 U. S., at ___ (slip op.,
at 6); see also Scarborough
, 541 U.S.
, 414 (2004) (filing deadline for fee applications under
Equal Access to Justice Act); Kontrick
, 454 (2004) (filing deadlines for objecting to
debtor’s discharge in bank- ruptcy); Honda
, 498 (1967) (filing deadline for claims under the
Trading with the Enemy Act). This case is scarcely the exceptional
one in which a “cen- tury’s worth of precedent and
practice in American courts” rank a time limit as
, 551 U. S., at 209, n. 2;
, 540 U. S., at 454 (a time limitation may
be emphatic, yet not jurisdictional).
urges that the three
requirements in §1395oo
(a) are specifications that
together define the limits of the PRRB’s jurisdiction.
Subsection (a)(1) specifies the claims providers may bring to the
Board, and subsection (a)(2) sets forth an amount-in-controversy
requirement. These are jurisdictional requirements, amicus
asserts, so we should read the third specification, subsection
(a)(3)’s 180-day limitation, as also setting a jurisdictional
Last Term, we rejected a similar proximity-based
argument. A requirement we would otherwise classify as
nonjurisdictional, we held, does not become jurisdictional simply
because it is placed in a section of a statute that also contains
jurisdictional provisions. Gonzalez
, 565 U. S., at ___
(slip op., at 11); see Weinberger
, 422 U.S.
, 763–764 (1975) (statutory provision at issue
contained three requirements for judicial review, only one of which
also argues that the 180-day time
limit for pro- vider appeals to the PRRB should be viewed as
jurisdictional because Congress could have expressly made the
provision nonjurisdictional, and indeed did so for other time
limits in the Medicare Act. Amicus
notes particularly that
when Medicare beneficiaries request the Secretary to reconsider a
benefits determination, the statute gives them a time limit of 180
days or “such additional time as the Secretary may
allow.” 42 U. S. C. §1395ff(b)(1)(D)(i); see
also §1395ff(b)(1)(D)(ii) (permitting Medicare beneficiary to
request a hearing by the Secretary within “time limits”
the Secretary “shall establish in regulations”). We
have recognized, as a general rule, that Congress’s use of
“certain language in one part of the statute and different
language in another” can indicate that “different
meanings were intended.” Sosa
, 542 U.S.
, 711, n. 9 (2004) (internal quotation marks omitted).
notes this general rule in urging that an express
grant of authority for the Secretary to extend the time for
beneficiary appeals implies the absence of such leeway for provider
But the interpretive guide just identified, like
other canons of construction, is “no more than [a] rul[e] of
thumb” that can tip the scales when a statute could be read
in multiple ways. Connecticut Nat. Bank
, 253 (1992). For the reasons earlier stated, see
at 6–8, we are persuaded that the time limi-
tation in §1395oo
(a) is most sensibly characterized as
a nonjurisdictional prescription. The limitation therefore does not
bar the modest extension contained in the Secretary’s
We turn now to the question whether
(a)(3)’s 180-day time limit for a provider
to appeal to the PRRB is subject to equitable tolling.
Congress vested in the Secretary large
rulemaking authority to administer the Medicare program. The PRRB
may adopt rules and procedures only if “not
inconsistent” with the Medicare Act or “regulations of
the Secretary.” 42 U. S. C. §1395oo
Concerning the 180-day period for an appeal to the Board from an
intermediary’s reimbursement determination, the
Secretary’s regulation im- plementing §1395oo
adopted after notice and comment, speaks in no uncertain terms:
“A request for a Board hearing filed
after [the 180-day time limit] shall be dismissed by the Board,
except that for good cause shown, the time limit may be extended.
However, no such extension shall be granted by the Board if such
request is filed more than 3 years after the date the notice of the
intermediary’s determination is mailed to the
provider.” 42 CFR §405.1841(b) (2007).
The Secretary allowed only a distinctly limited
extension of time to appeal to the PRRB, cognizant that “the
Board is burdened by an immense caseload,” and that
“procedural rules requiring timely filings are indispens-
able devices for keeping the machinery of the reimbursement appeals
process running smoothly.” High Country Home Health,
359 F.3d 1307
, 1310 (CA10 2004). Imposing equitable tolling to
permit appeals barred by the Secretary’s regulation would
essentially gut the Secretary’s requirement that an appeal to
the Board “shall be dismissed” if filed more than 180
days after the NPR, unless the provider shows “good
cause” and requests an extension no later than
years after the NPR. A court lacks authority to undermine the
regime established by the Secretary unless her regulation is
“arbitrary, capricious, or manifestly contrary to the
statute.” Chevron U. S. A. Inc.
Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc.
, 467 U.S.
, 844 (1984).
The Secretary’s regulation, we are
satisfied, survives inspection under that deferential standard. As
HHS has explained, “[i]t is in the interest of providers and
the pro- gram that, at some point, intermediary determinations and
the resulting amount of program payment due the provider or the
program become no longer open to correction.” CMS, Medicare:
Provider Reimbursement Manual, pt. 1, ch. 29, §2930, p.
29–73 (rev. no. 372, 2011); cf. Taylor
, 503 U.S.
, 644 (1992) (“Deadlines may lead to unwelcome
results, but they prompt parties to act and produce
finality.”). The Secretary brought to bear practical
experience in superintending the huge pro- gram generally, and the
PRRB in particular, in maintaining three years as the outer limit.
A court must uphold the Secretary’s judgment as long as it is
a permissible construction of the statute, even if it differs from
how the court would have interpreted the statute in the absence of
an agency regulation. National Cable & Telecommunications
v. Brand X Internet Services
, 545 U.S.
, 980 (2005); see also Chevron
, 467 U. S., at
843, n. 11.
Rejecting the Secretary’s position, the
Court of Appeals relied principally on this Court’s decision
498 U. S., at 95–96. Irwin
concerned the then 30-day time period for filing suit against a
federal agency under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42
U. S. C. §2000e–16(c) (1988 ed.). We held in
that “the same rebut- table presumption of
equitable tolling applicable to suits against private defendants
should also apply to suits against the United States.” 498
U. S., at 95–96. Irwin
equitable-tolling cases we have considered both pre- and
, have generally involved time limits for filing
suit in federal court. See, e.g.
, 560 U. S. ___ (2010) (one-year
limitation for filing application for writ of habeas corpus);
, 528 U.S.
(2000) (four-year period for filing civil RICO suit);
, 524 U.S.
(1998) (12-year period to bring suit under Quiet Title Act);
Lampf, Pleva, Lipkind, Prupis & Petigrow
, 501 U.S.
(1991) (one- and three-year periods for commencing civil
action under §10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934);
, 386 U.S.
(1967) (60-day period for filing suit under Trading with
the Enemy Act); Kendall
v. United States
, 107 U.S.
(1883) (six-year period for filing suit in Court of
Claims). Courts in those cases rendered in the first instance the
decision whether equity required tolling.
This case is of a different order. We have never
applied the Irwin
presumption to an agency’s internal
appeal dead- line, here the time a provider has to appeal an inter-
mediary’s reimbursement determination to the PRRB. Cf.
, 350 (1997) (assuming, arguendo
presumption applied to time limit for filing an
administrative claim for a tax re- fund, but concluding based on
statutory text, structure, and purpose that there was “good
reason to believe that Congress did not
want the equitable
tolling doctrine to apply”).
The presumption of equitable tolling was adopted
in part on the premise that “[s]uch a principle is likely to
be a realistic assessment of legislative intent.”
, 498 U. S., at 95. But that premise is inapt in
the context of providers’ administrative appeals under the
Medicare Act. The Act, until 1972, provided no avenue for providers
to obtain administrative or judicial review. When Congress first
directed the Secretary to establish the PRRB, Congress
simultaneously imposed the 180-day deadline, with no statutory
exceptions. For nearly 40 years the Secre- tary has prohibited the
Board from extending that deadline, except as provided by
regulation. And until the D. C. Circuit’s decision in
this case, no court had ever read equitable tolling into
(a)(3) or the Secretary’s implementation
of that provision. Congress amended §1395oo
since 1974, each time leaving untouched the 180-day administrative
appeal provision and the Secretary’s rulemaking authority. At
no time did Congress express disapproval of the three-year outer
time limit set by the Secretary for an extension upon a showing of
good cause. See Commodity Futures Trading Comm’n
, 478 U.S.
, 846 (1986) (“[W]hen Congress revisits a statute
giving rise to a longstanding administrative interpretation without
pertinent change, the congressional failure to revise or repeal the
agency’s interpretation is persuasive evidence that the
interpretation is the one in- tended by Congress.” (internal
quotation marks omitted)).
We note, furthermore, that unlike the remedial
statutes at issue in many of this Court’s equitable-tolling
decisions, see Irwin
, 498 U. S., at 91; Bowen
City of New York
, 476 U.S.
, 480 (1986); Zipes
, 455 U. S., at 398, the
statu- tory scheme before us is not designed to be
“ ‘unusually protective’ of
, 476 U. S., at 480. Nor is it
one “in which laymen, unassisted by trained lawyers, initiate
the process.” Zipes
, 455 U. S., at 397 (internal
quotation marks omitted). The Medicare payment system in question
applies to “sophisticated” institutional pro- viders
assisted by legal counsel, and “generally capable of
identifying an underpayment in [their] own NPR within the 180-day
time period specified in 42 U. S. C.
(a)(3).” Your Home Visiting Nurse
, 525 U.S.
, 456 (1999). As repeat players who elect to participate in
the Medicare system, providers can hardly claim lack of notice of
the Secretary’s regulations.
The hospitals ultimately argue that the
Secretary’s regulations fail to adhere to the
“fundamentals of fair play.” FCC
Pottsville Broadcasting Co.
, 309 U.S.
, 143 (1940). They point, particularly, to 42 CFR
§405.1885(b)(3) (2012), which permits reopening of an
intermediary’s reimbursement determination “at any time
if it is established that such determination . . . was
procured by fraud or similar fault of any party to the
We considered a similar alleged inequity in
and explained that it was justified by the
“administrative realities” of the provider
reimbursement appeal system. 525 U. S., at 455. There are only
a few dozen fiscal intermediaries and they are charged with issuing
tens of thousands of NPRs, while each provider can concentrate on a
single NPR, its own. Id.,
at 456. The Secretary, Your
concluded, could reasonably believe that this asymmetry
justifies giving the intermediaries more time to discover
overpayments than the providers have to discover underpayments.
Moreover, the fraud exception allowing indefinite reopening does
apply to an intermediary if it “procured” a Board
decision by “fraud or similar fault.” Although an
intermediary is not a party to its own determination, it does rank
as a party in proceedings before the Board. 42 CFR
* * *
We hold, in sum, that the 180-day statutory
deadline for administrative appeals to the PRRB, contained in 42
U. S. C. §1395oo
(a)(3), is not
“jurisdictional.” Therefore the Secretary lawfully
exercised her rulemaking authority in providing for a three-year
“good cause” extension. We further hold that the
equitable tolling presumption our Irwin
for suits brought in court does not similarly apply to
administrative appeals of the kind here considered, and that the
Secretary’s regulation, 42 CFR §405.1841(b), is a
permissible interpretation of the statute.
The judgment of the United States Court of
Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is therefore reversed,
and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with
It is so ordered.