Ad­min­is­tra­tion sub­mits brief on Med­i­caid ex­pan­sion plans

Modern Healthcare - - LATE NEWS -

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court lay­ing out its ar­gu­ment against the con­tention of 26 states that the health­care re­form law un­con­sti­tu­tion­ally co­erces them to pull too much of the weight in ex­tend­ing cov­er­age to 36 mil­lion Amer­i­cans. While the fight about the law’s man­date that in­di­vid­u­als buy health in­sur­ance has re­ceived the most at­ten­tion in the le­gal bat­tle, the Supreme Court also will re­view whether Congress ex­ceeded its au­thor­ity by sig­nif­i­cantly ex­pand­ing Med­i­caid el­i­gi­bil­ity. Lawyers for the ad­min­is­tra­tion ar­gue in the brief that Congress took steps to mit­i­gate the bur­den by ini­tially cov­er­ing the costs and later pro­vid­ing ad­di­tional fed­eral as­sis­tance, and that any new bur­dens on state Med­i­caid pro­grams will be “more than off­set” by other cost re­duc­tions achieved by the re­form law. The brief also re­jects the states’ ar­gu­ment that they can’t re­al­is­ti­cally opt out of Med­i­caid be­cause of the large size of the pro­gram. “How­ever at­trac­tive the of­fer of fed­eral Med­i­caid fund­ing may be, the decision whether to ac­cept it al­ways be­longs to the states,” the ad­min­is­tra­tion ar­gues in the brief, de­scrib­ing the states’ op­pos­ing view as a re­flec­tion that their cit­i­zens “would hold them po­lit­i­cally re­spon­si­ble” for ei­ther elim­i­nat­ing ben­e­fits or rais­ing taxes to pro­vide the cov­er­age on their own. The court is sched­uled to hear ar­gu­ments in the health­care chal­lenge at the end of March, with the Med­i­caid ques­tion sched­uled for March 28.

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