Healthcare Business News

Hospital groups dispute states' arguments against Medicaid expansion

By Joe Carlson
Posted: February 17, 2012 - 10:45 pm ET

A friend-of-the-court brief (PDF) filed by interest groups representing virtually every hospital in America urges the Supreme Court to reject arguments by 26 states that the expanded Medicaid eligibility called for under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care is unconstitutionally “coercive.”

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The states argue they can’t feasibly bow out of the voluntary program, allowing Congress to 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 March 26-28.

The brief was filed by the American Hospital Association, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Catholic Health Association, the Federation of American Hospitals, the National Association of Children’s Hospitals, and the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems.

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