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  • GOP States: Obama Admin Is Trying To Force Us To Expand Medicaid Under Obamacare

    The attorneys general for 10 Republican-led states are crying foul against the Obama administration for threatening to withhold unrelated Medicaid funding if they don’t expand Medicaid, a pet project under Obamacare.

    After a long-fought battle in Florida, 10 additional states wrote to the House Energy and Commerce Committee Tuesday to ask for help to restrict the executive branch’s efforts to force more states into Medicaid expansion. While the offer has been on the table since Obamacare passed in 2010, just 29 states and Washington, D.C. have opted to expand their Medicaid programs with mostly federal dollars so far.

    “The United States Supreme Court has made clear that the federal government cannot compel states to administer federal programs, and [centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’] recent decisions to deny unrelated federal health care funding based on a state’s non-expansion of Medicaid constitutes unlawful coercion,” the 10 attorneys general wrote.

    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency which runs both Obamacare and Medicaid, told Florida earlier this year that it would no longer fund a Low Income Pool through Medicaid unless Florida expanded its full Medicaid program under Obamacare– a change that allows those earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty line to seek the taxpayer-provided coverage. (RELATED: Study: Immigrants Are Boosting Obamacare’s Medicaid Expansion Rolls The Most)

    The administration’s efforts to convince states to expand Medicaid against their wishes has been the subject of near-constant battle since Obamacare passed into law five years ago. In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that a provision in the Affordable Care Act that said the federal government could cease providing any Medicaid funding to states that turned down the expansion was unconstitutional.

    “The Supreme Court said that it is up to the states to decide whether to expand their Medicaid programs,” Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said Tuesday. “The federal government may provide incentive for expansion, but it may not punish states for declining expansion by withdrawing unrelated financial support for other programs.”

    The 10 states –Texas, Kansas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina and Utah– are asking Congress to investigate CMS’s actions. The Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on the matter Wednesday.

    “Florida has sued CMS for unlawful coercive expansion of the state’s Medicaid program and Texas and Kansas are providing amicus support in that litigation,” the letter concludes. “While CMS’ unlawful action will play out in the court system, we welcome assistance from Congress in reigning-in CMS, an agency insistent on trampling the rights of our sovereign states to make critical policy decisions regarding Medicaid, and in terminating funding for critical health services, imperiling the lives of our most vulnerable citizens.”

    Encouraging more states to adopt the Medicaid expansion has been a pet project of new Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell. While Democratic-led states have typically gotten onboard with the expansion, most Republican-led states continue to oppose broadening the welfare program, with some notable exceptions, such as Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich. (RELATED: Kasich: No Regrets Over Medicaid Expansion)

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