On February 3, 2022, the Texas Third Court of Appeals in Austin issued the most recent decision in the PHI Air Medical Case
. The Texas Supreme Court remanded the case to the Third Court of Appeals so that the Third Court could decide the issues that it did not reach the first time it decided the case.
The primary issue on remand to the Third Court of Appeals was whether the Airline Deregulation Act (ADA) preempts the Workers’ Compensation Act’s prohibition against balance-billing injured workers. The court of appeals held that PHI did not meet its burden to show, on the record before the court, that the balance-billing prohibition has a “significant effect” on its prices. Therefore, the court held, "[T]he ADA does not preempt Section 413.042 of the Act or any of the challenged provisions of the Act, when properly considered together.”
Accordingly, the court of appeals affirmed the portion of the trial court’s judgment which determined that the ADA does not preempt the Act’s balance-billing prohibition or reimbursement provisions. However, the court of appeals concluded that the trial court erred in granting the carriers’ plea to the jurisdiction and dismissing PHI’s suit for judicial review of SOAH’s decision. Therefore, the court of appeals reversed the trial court’s order granting the plea and ordered the case remanded to the trial court for further proceedings.
The case won’t go back to the trial court yet though if PHI files a motion for rehearing with the court of appeals or a petition for review with the Texas Supreme Court challenging the court of appeals’ decision on the preemption issue.
PHI’s deadline to file a motion for rehearing or a petition for review with the Texas Supreme Court is March 21, 2022.
To read the decision, click here