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Supreme Court to hear case on Medicaid rates

The Hill, October 3, 2011

The Supreme Court will hear arguments today in a healthcare case that pits states against the federal government — and Democrats against Democrats. At issue is whether patients and healthcare providers can sue to block states from cutting their Medicaid rates. The suit was filed after California proposed a series of Medicaid cuts, some as high as 10 percent. The Obama administration has taken the state's side, saying patients and doctors don't have a right to sue over Medicaid payment rates. But Democratic leaders in Congress — including Minority Leader Nancy Pelsoi and Rep. Henry Waxman, both from California — have filed a brief arguing that Congress intended for the courts to serve as a check on state cuts. Federal Medicaid law doesn't expressly include a right to sue over payment levels. But it requires states to keep their payment rates high enough for providers to participate in the program.