Hos­pi­tals roundly re­ject states’ case against Med­i­caid ex­pan­sion

Modern Healthcare - - LATE NEWS -

A friend-of-the-court brief filed by in­ter­est groups rep­re­sent­ing vir­tu­ally ev­ery hospi­tal in Amer­ica urges the U.S. Supreme Court to re­ject ar­gu­ments by 26 states that the ex­panded Med­i­caid el­i­gi­bil­ity called for un­der the Pa­tient Pro­tec­tion and Af­ford­able Care Act is un­con­sti­tu­tion­ally “co­er­cive.” The states ar­gue they can’t fea­si­bly bow out of the vol­un­tary pro­gram, mean­ing that Congress can force them to spend money in costly ex­pan­sions of its scope. The hos­pi­tals’ 30-page brief coun­ters that al­low­ing states to tor­pedo the re­form law’s Med­i­caid changes would amount to a kind of “heckler’s veto” in which all states would have to ap­prove changes to the pro­gram be­fore Congress could pass them. Such a stance would pre­vent in­no­va­tions in Med­i­caid pro­grams, the hos­pi­tals ar­gue, in­clud­ing de­ci­sions to in­crease Med­i­caid rates if Congress de­ter­mined that hos­pi­tals were un­der­com­pen­sated. Although no fed­eral cir­cuit court has agreed with the states’ ar­gu­ment on co­er­cion, the Supreme Court granted oral ar­gu­ments on the ques­tion, along with three oth­ers per­tain­ing to the re­form law, sched­uled for March 26-28. The brief was filed by the Amer­i­can Hospi­tal As­so­ci­a­tion, As­so­ci­a­tion of Amer­i­can Med­i­cal Col­leges, Catholic Health As­so­ci­a­tion, Fed­er­a­tion of Amer­i­can Hos­pi­tals, Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tals and the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Public Hos­pi­tals and Health Sys­tems.

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