Rule of Law

Medicaid Expansion “Sleeper Issue” of Health Care Cases

If the U.S. Supreme Court decides that President Obama’s health care reform law’s expansion of Medicaid is “coercive” toward the states, it could endanger government programs entirely unrelated to health care, reports Bloomberg News’ Amanda Crawford.

“If they buy the more fundamental claim by states that this is coercive, not only would that cast doubt on the constitutionality of Medicaid as we know it, it would also cast doubt on a huge number of other spending programs,” said I. Glenn Cohen, an assistant professor at Harvard Law School who wrote about the issue in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Reversal of the Medicaid expansion could “expose laws such as the Clean Air Act [and] the No Child Left Behind education law to judicial challenge,” the story says.

“The Medicaid expansion issue is the real sleeper issue of the health-care challenge,” says Elizabeth Wydra, chief counsel for the Washington-based Constitutional Accountability Center, who represents state lawmakers supporting the health-care law. “The states’ arguments have the potential to open Pandora’s Box. While they only want to limit their argument here to Medicaid expansion in the Affordable Care Act, I think the consequences of their argument are much more extreme than that.”