States argue against Medicaid expansion in healthcare reform law challenges

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The U.S. Supreme Court building
The U.S. Supreme Court building

Twenty-six states filed a brief Tuesday encouraging the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down a provision of the healthcare reform law that calls for a major expansion of Medicaid.

Many court observers were surprised when the court agreed to hear arguments to this part of the law. A provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires state Medicaid programs to insure all individuals younger than 65 with income of up to 133% of the poverty level or risk losing federal funding.

In the brief, attorney Paul Clement wrote this requirement threatens funding for “the single largest grant-in-aid program in existence — literally billions of dollars each year — if [states] do not capitulate to Congress' steep new demands.” The brief requests that the court apply the coercion doctrine in striking down the requirement.

The Congressional Budget Office predicts that the Medicaid expansion would enroll 16 million new beneficiaries by the end of this decade. Oral arguments for the case are expected to start on March 28.

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