November 19, 2010
State Legislators' Amicus Supports Federal Health Care Reform
State legislators from 27 states today filed an amicus brief supporting the federal government in the State of Florida's challenge to federal health care reform now in the Northern District of Florida. Some of the states represented have filed their own cases against the federal government. We posted on the case here and here.
The legislators focus on federalism. They argue first that federal health care reform does not violate principles of federalism, because it offers policy choices (and not requirements, in violation of the anti-commandeering rule) for the states at each turn. For example: States have discretion to form their own insurance exchange, or to join with other states in a regional exchange, or to allow the federal government to administer a state-wide exchange; states have discretion in tailoring the health care plans to be provided through the exchange; and states can apply for a waiver to set up their own program, with or without a minimum coverage provision, or with a public option. "This allows for the diversity and innovation that is the hallmark of the States." Brief at 6.
The legislators also take on opposition to expanded coverage in Medicaid. (Federal health care reform expands Medicaid eligibility to individuals under 65 with incomes below 133% of the federal poverty line.) The legislators argue that Medicaid is and always has been a voluntary federal-state partnership and a classic example of federal conditioned spending (meeting the requirements of South Dakota v. Dole). They argue that grumblings from Texas this week about opting out of Medicaid prove their point: States can opt out of the new requirements if they like--and thus there is no coercion or commandeering involved.
The Constitutional Accountability Center filed the brief on behalf of the legislators.
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