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Democrats challenging Obama Administration on Medicaid

The New York Times, August 9, 2011

In an unusual break with the White House, the Democratic leaders of Congress told the Supreme Court on Monday that President Obama was pursuing a misguided interpretation of federal Medicaid law that made it more difficult for low-income people to obtain healthcare. The Democratic leaders said Medicaid beneficiaries must be allowed to file suit to enforce their right to care -- and to challenge Medicaid cuts being made by states around the country. The Obama administration maintains that beneficiaries and healthcare providers cannot sue state officials to challenge cuts in Medicaid payment rates, even if such cuts compromise access to care for the poor. In a friend-of-the-court brief, the lawmakers said the administration's position "would undermine the effectiveness of Medicaid." In addition, they said, it conflicts with more than a century of court precedents that allow people to sue to block state actions that are inconsistent with federal law.