Sunday, March 5, 2006
This will bear some close scrutiny. Five states (Texas [lead], Kentucky, Maine, Missouri and New Jersey) with the support of 10 states as amici have sued the U.S. in an original action filed in the Supreme Court on Friday. The docket number is 135 ORG (for "Original") but as of this writing, the case is too new to have an electronic docket on the Supreme's website. Click here to search for the docket in a few days.
Lyle Denniston has the details and links over at ScotusBlog. The gist of the suit is that Medicare Part D's "clawback" provision amounts to an unconstitutional tax on the sovereign states. Here's Denniston's version of the issue:
Under the new drug law, enacted in 2003, states must pay part of the costs of federal Medicare drug coverage for persons receiving either Medicare (old age) or Medicaid (low income) medical benefits. If a state falls to make those required payments, the amount of the default -- plus interest -- will be deducted from any Medicaid payments the government would have paid to the state.
Andy Schneider authored an issue paper on this provision for the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured in June 2004: "The 'Clawback': State Financing of Medicare Drug Coverage." The AP's summary of the lawsuit is here. [tm]