A federal judge has rejected a request by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to reconsinder his order to eliminate the backlog of pending Medicare claims appeals at the administrative law judge (ALJ) level within four years.

U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg on Jan. 4 said a motion to reconsider is not a vehicle to present a new legal theory available prior to judgment or reargue previously raised theories.

The American Hospital Association (AHA) filed suit in May 2014 in an effort force HHS to meet the 90-day statutory timeframe for a decision on a Medicare claim appeal at the ALJ level.

Judge Boasberg previously granted summary judgment to the AHA and three member hospitals in their case, ordering HHS to reduce the backlog of cases 30 percent by Dec. 31, 2017; 60 percent by Dec. 31, 2018; 90 percent by Dec. 31, 2019; and fully by Dec. 31, 2020. The decision also requires HHS to file status reports with the court every 90 days.