Independence Institute brief on Medicaid mandate

On behalf of the Independence Institute, Rob Natelson and I wrote an amicus brief on the Medicaid mandate currently before the Supreme Court. (The ACA requirement that states must drastically expand Medicaid eligibility, or lose all their federal matching funds for Medicaid.) Here’s the Summary of Argument:

By imposing the Medicaid mandates in the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), Congress exceeded the scope of its enumerated powers. If allowed to stand, those mandates could be the death-knell for the Constitution’s finely calibrated system of federalism. The states truly would be little more than agencies for Congress to “commandeer” at will.

The Founders created and the People ratified a Constitution protecting the States’ role as limited “sovereigns.” As this Court has ruled repeatedly, the states’ sovereign “independence” entitles them to make decisions within their sphere based on their own policy judgments, free of federal coercion. As explained below, this rule and the closely-related principle of federal non-coercion is of particular constitutional importance in financing health and social services.

In sustaining the Medicaid mandates, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit overlooked both Founding-Era constitutional principle and modern Supreme Court doctrine. It also overlooked aspects of the Medicaid mandates that particularly aggravate their coercive qualities. Insofar as the ACA authorizes withdrawal of all Medicaid funds from States that choose not to submit to the Medicaid mandates, that statute slashes at the heart of American federalism. It is unconstitutional and void.

Intelligent comments are welcome, although experience suggests that there will also be plenty of comments from twits who have not read the brief, yet proclaim their absolute certainty about supposedly fatal errors in its legal reasoning. Rob’s summary of brief is available on his blog.