Re: Challenge to vacate permanent injunction from 1979 prohibiting HHS "'from disclosing any list of annual Medicare reimbursements amounts, for any years' that identifies providers of services under Medicare"
Disposition: Granting intervenors' motion to vacate the injunction
- Reverse FOIA: The court finds that a 1979 injunction "which forever prohibits a federal agency or any other court from evaluating the merits of a FOIA request and/or release of information pursuant to FOIA, regardless of whether the nature of the information or surrounding factual circumstances have changed" must be vacated. "Such an injunction is impermissible under the Privacy Act and conflicts with the objectives of FOIA to encourage disclosure." The court further opines that "'reverse FOIA jurisprudence counsels that long-term broad prospective injunctive relief enjoining an agency from releasing a generalized category of information is detrimental to the public interest, and for this reason, also no longer equitable." The court explains that "[t]he premise of a reverse FOIA claim is founded upon judicial review of an agency's decision to release particular information under FOIA, and a determination of whether, under the APA the agency's decision was arbitrary, capricious, or contrary to law. That review applies to particular actions and does not encompass future agency conduct which may or may not occur."