Florida Gov. Rick Scott followed through last week on his threat to file a lawsuit alleging HHS is illegally trying to coerce the state into expanding Medicaid eligibility by threatening to end funding for hospitals that care for low-income patients.
As part of a federal Medicaid waiver, Florida has received between $1 billion and $2 billion annually since 2005 in low-income pool funding. That waiver is set to expire in June. In April, the CMS informed the state that, “The future of the (low-income pool), sufficient provider rates and Medicaid expansion are linked.” The Obama administration has delivered a similar message to other states that receive low-income funding under Medicaid waivers and have declined to expand Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act. Florida's House and Senate remain split over Medicaid expansion.
Scott and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi have asked Paul Clement, the attorney who successfully argued that the Obama administration could not coerce states into Medicaid expansion in NFIB v. Sebelius in 2012, to represent Florida in the case.
“President Obama's sudden end to the Low Income Pool healthcare program to leverage us for Obamacare is illegal and a blatant overreach of executive power,” Scott said in a statement. “This sort of coercion tactic has already been called illegal by the U.S. Supreme Court.”