Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court wrapped up the final day of oral arguments challenging various aspects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010. Wednesday’s proceedings focused on two key issues: severability and the Medicaid expansion.
Following the arguments on severability—in which the court considered whether the rest of the health care law can stand if the individual mandate provision is found unconstitutional—the Court was asked if the Medicaid expansion under the ACA was constitutional. The states represented in this lawsuit claim that the expansion is coercive and will cause undue burden to their budgets, and furthermore that their failure to meet their match may jeopardize their ability to participate in the Medicaid program. Under the ACA, the federal government will pick up the majority of the costs for newly eligible populations, thereby weakening the states’ argument that the expansion too costly. Additionally, states have always been required to adhere to certain conditions to in order to receive federal matching funds to run their Medicaid program. Recent data suggests that while Medicaid spending has grown as a result of increased enrollment due to the recession, the federal government has paid for the majority of the costs through an increased match to the states.
Now that the three days of oral arguments have come to an end, consumers, advocates, Members of Congress, and the Administration will have to wait three months for the final decision from the Supreme Court, which is expected in June. While the Administration and the states are already in the process of implementing the law, the decision may require Congress to take another look at the law and determine how to modify certain provisions, which may alter the path forward for implementation