26 states say medicaid expansion in health care law is unconstitutional
26 states say medicaid expansion in health care law is unconstitutional
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[JURIST] Twenty-six states submitted a brief [text, PDF] to the US Supreme Court [official website] Tuesday challenging the constitutionality of the expansion of Medicaid for the poor and disabled in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) [HR 3590; JURIST backgrounder]. The brief argues that PPACA’s expansion of Medicaid is so integral to the law itself that PPACA in its entirety should be nullified. The government predicts that the enrollment in Medicaid will increase by 16 million people by the end of 2020. The states allege that PPACA’s new requirements eliminate the voluntary participation of states in the Medicaid program by taking away federal funding for non-participation. Therefore, states have no other alternative but to continue participating in Medicaid. The brief states:

The scope of the federal government’s power is much debated, but the fact that its powers are limited and enumerated is common ground to all. A judicial doctrine that implicitly or explicitly allows Congress to use the spending power without meaningful judicial supervision is simply not compatible with that basic premise of our system.

The government’s brief on the issue of Medicaid’s expansion is due by February 10.

On Saturday, the federal government filed a brief [JURIST report] before the US Supreme Court arguing that the minimum coverage provision of the PPACA, which requires almost every US citizen to obtain health insurance by 2014 or face a tax penalty, is constitutional. The government is attempting to keep the focus of the argument on health care reform as a whole [SCOTUSblog report], rather than on the specific minimum coverage provision. The same group of 26 states filed a supporting brief arguing that the minimum coverage provision cannot be severed from the health care reform act without the entire system collapsing. The court granted certiorari to rule on health care reform law [JURIST report] in three separate cases, reserving five-and-half-hours for oral argument on the issue.