Patt Morrison for March 28, 2012

States’ rights and federal money – who gets to dictate terms when it comes to Medicaid?

John Moore/Getty Images

Physician's assistant Ann Valdez checks out Amy Morales, 2, during a check-up at a community health center on March 27, 2012 in Aurora, Colorado. The center, called the Metro Community Provider Network, has received some 6,000 more Medicaid eligable patients since the healthcare reform law was passed in 2010.

Are there limits to the conditions (or spending clauses) that Congress sets for the distribution of federal funds? Besides health coverage, this is what’s at stake in today’s Medicaid arguments in front of the Supreme Court.

Most states already offer Medicaid funds to a limited population – usually children, seniors, and pregnant women. The Affordable Care Act expands that coverage by requiring that Medicaid funds be given to anyone earning under 133% of the federal poverty line, with the federal government paying the lion’s share of the costs for the first six years. 26 states oppose this expansion, arguing that they are being coerced into following these changes; if they refuse the expansion, they lose their Medicaid funds entirely. This will be the first Supreme Court ruling on what everyone agrees is a ubiquitous Congressional habit.

WEIGH IN:

Should states be able to set their own spending agendas with federal money?

Guests:

Ashutosh Bhagwat, constitutional law professor, UC Davis

Timothy Sandefur, principal attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation, a libertarian public interest group and he filed an amicus brief in today’s hearing opposing the Medicaid expansion


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