Top Democrats opposed to Obama administration position on Medicaid lawsuits

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) have parted ways with the Obama administration regarding the rights of Medicaid beneficiaries to sue their states over discontinuation of benefits and access to care.

Along with five other Democratic leaders, Reid and Pelosi this week filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court to express their opposition to the administration's position in a case the high court is expected to hear next year, The New York Times reported. In Douglas v. Independent Living Center of Southern California, which consolidates a set of cases, a group of providers and retirees are suing California because its Legislature reduced Medicaid payments to providers by 10% in 2008. The group claims the state violated a federal law that requires Medicaid rates to be set at a level “sufficient to enlist enough providers” to care for poor individuals.

The Obama administration has argued that providers and Medicaid beneficiaries cannot sue their states over access to care. The administration says that it is up to Department of Health and Human Services to enforce such issues.

But in the friend-of-the-court brief, the Democrats wrote that position “would undermine the effectiveness of Medicaid,” and doesn't reflect legal precedent, the Times reported.  “California has failed to adhere to its obligations,” they wrote.