The Corner

The Obama Administration Is Trying to Force Florida into the Medicaid Expansion, So Florida’s Suing

Florida governor Rick Scott

The Obama administration, via the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, has threatened to cut off a billion-dollar pool of funds that Florida gets every year from the federal government to pay hospitals to take care of poor patients, called the Low Income Pool, unless Florida agrees to expand Medicaid under Obamacare. (It’s the Florida legislature that’s solidly opposed to doing so; Governor Rick Scott has gone back and forth.) So Governor Scott announced today he’s suing the federal government over the issue, citing the fact that the Supreme Court struck down part of Obamacare back in 2012 because it involved coercing the states, which the federal government isn’t really allowed to do. 

From the governor’s announcement:

The President’s healthcare agency sent us a letter this week saying the ‘the future of LIP’ and ‘Medicaid expansion are linked.’ But, the Supreme Court has already ruled in NFIB v. Sebelius that the President cannot force Medicaid expansion on states. In fact, the Court ruled that the President could not use ‘gun to the head’ approaches in pushing for Medicaid expansion.

“Not only does President Obama’s end to LIP funding in Florida violate the law by crossing the line into a coercion tactic for Obamacare, it also threatens poor families’ access to the safety net healthcare services they need.

The idea, to be sympathetic to CMS, is that the Medicaid expansion obviates the need for programs like LIP, but it won’t, really, as Scott’s announcement points out. As Ramesh wrote yesterday, this looks a lot more like just a new strategy by President Obama to get states to sign onto Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion (the source of a lot of the law’s effect on the uninsured rate) before he leaves office in 18 months. The underlying idea CMS is citing is also appealing to the Obama administration: It papers over the fact that Obamacare leaves huge gaps in our health system that states, hospitals, etc. have to find a way to fill.

Scott’s comparison to the earlier Supreme Court is quite fair — there certainly seems to be some intentional coercion here — but the situation is not exactly the same. The struck-down portion of Obamacare threatened to completely wreck states’ health-care systems and budgets by withdrawing all federal Medicaid funding if they didn’t implement the expansion, while CMS is now just threatening to cut off a much smaller, discretionary piece of funding that has only existed since 2005 and varies widely across states. It seems quite possible what the Obama administration is trying to do now is legal by the standard that deemed the original Medicaid expansion illegal.

Patrick Brennan — Patrick Brennan is a writer and policy analyst based in Washington, D.C. He was Director of Digital Content for Marco Rubio's presidential campaign, writing op-eds, policy content, and leading the ...

Most Popular

White House

The Problem Isn’t Just the GOP, Mr. Comey

During a CNN town hall on Wednesday night, James Comey alleged that the Republican party allows President Trump to get away with making inappropriate statements without holding him accountable. “If the Republicans, if they just close their eyes and imagine Barack Obama waking up in the morning saying someone ... Read More
Law & the Courts

‘Judges for the #Resistance’

At Politico, I wrote today about the judiciary’s activism against Trump on immigration: There is a lawlessness rampant in the land, but it isn’t emanating from the Trump administration. The source is the federal judges who are making a mockery of their profession by twisting the law to block the Trump ... Read More
White House

Trump’s Friendships Are America’s Asset

The stale, clichéd conceptions of Donald Trump held by both Left and Right — a man either utterly useless or only rigidly, transactionally tolerable — conceal the fact that the president does possess redeeming talents that are uniquely his, and deserve praise on their own merit. One is personal friendliness ... Read More

Columbia 1968: Another Untold Story

Fifty years ago this week, Columbia students riding the combined wave of the civil-rights and anti-war movements went on strike, occupied buildings across campus, and shut the university down. As you revisit that episode of the larger drama that was the annus horribilis 1968, bear in mind that the past isn’t ... Read More

Only the Strident Survive

‘I am not prone to anxiety,” historian Niall Ferguson wrote in the Times of London on April 22. “Last week, however, for the first time since I went through the emotional trauma of divorce, I experienced an uncontrollable panic attack.” The cause? “A few intemperate emails, inadvertently forwarded ... Read More