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Case No. 17-1317

UnityPoint Health Cedar Rapids d/b/a St. Luke's Hospital
v.
Iowa Department of Public Health, State Health Facilities Council and Mercy Hospital Cedar Rapids d/b/a Mercy Medical Center

Appellant

UnityPoint Health Cedar Rapids d/b/a St. Luke's Hospital

Appellees

Iowa Department of Public Health, State Health Facilities Council and Mercy Hospital Cedar Rapids d/b/a Mercy Medical Center

Attorneys for Appellant

Rebecca A. Brommel and Douglas E. Gross

Attorneys for Appellees

Tessa Register and Heather L. Adams, Assistant Attorneys General
Edwin N. McIntosh and William J. Miller, for intervenor

Court of Appeals

Court of Appeals Opinion

Opinion Number:
17-1317
Date Published:
Jan 09, 2019
Summary

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Eliza J. Ovrom, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Heard by Potterfield, P.J., Doyle, J., and Danilson, S.J.  Opinion by Potterfield, P.J.  (19 pages)

            UnityPoint Health Cedar Rapids, doing business as St. Luke’s Hospital, appeals from the district court’s ruling on judicial review affirming the State Health Facilities Council’s decision to issue a Certificate of Need (CON) to Mercy Hospital Cedar Rapids, which allows Mercy to establish its own open-heart surgical program in its Cedar Rapids hospital.  On appeal, St. Luke’s maintains the Council’s decision to grant the CON should be reversed because the Council’s interpretation of the minimum utilization rule—found in Iowa Administrative Code rule 641-203.2(3)(a)(1)—as a guideline rather than a mandate is either erroneous, see Iowa Code § 17A.19(10)(c) (2015), or “irrational, illogical, or wholly unjustifiable,” see Iowa Code § 17A.19(10)(l).  Additionally, St. Luke’s challenges whether some of the findings made by the Council are supported by substantial evidence in the record, see Iowa Code § 17A.19(10)(f), including some findings that are required by Iowa Code section 135.64 before a CON can be issued.  OPINION HOLDS: We agree with the district court that the Council is vested with the power to interpret rule 641-203.2(3)(a)(1) and its interpretation of the rule as a guideline is not illogical, irrational, or wholly unjustifiable.  Additionally, the Council’s necessary findings pursuant to Iowa Code section 135.64(2) are supported by substantial evidence in the record, and its decision to grant the CON is not irrational, illogical, or wholly unjustifiable.  We affirm the district court’s ruling on judicial review.

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