Supreme Court Hears Medi-Cal

High Court to consider massive cuts to services and reimbursement rates.

by Brian Leubitz

The United States Supreme Court opened up its 2011-2012 term, and oh yeah, they’re talking California:

The Supreme Court began a new term Monday by refereeing a major healthcare dispute to decide whether cash-strapped states like California can cut their Medicaid payments to doctors and hospitals who serve low-income patients.

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Lawyers for California and the Obama administration urged the court to rule that Medicaid is a “voluntary” effort to provide medical care for the poor and that disputes over funding should be resolved by healthcare officials in Sacramento and Washington, not by federal judges in San Francisco.

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But Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan spoke up for the medical providers who sued. They said California was seeking to cut its reimbursements even before the state had cleared the move with federal Medicaid officials in Washington. Ginsburg said there is no effective way to enforce the Medicaid Act if patients and providers cannot go to court when spending is slashed. (LA Times)

And really, that is kind of the point, right?  The poor have a very difficult time complaining about the cuts, and they have a smaller financial interest than the medical industry.  I don’t think this is necessarily the best way to go about a health care system, but denying the providers access to the courts means that there will be no challenges at all.

Sure, we need single payer or something that will actually work, but we need to be sure that we don’t close the courthouse door in the interim.

3 thoughts on “Supreme Court Hears Medi-Cal”

  1. Counselor, if you are so inclined; what was the certified question?  It’s late and I’m lazy.  From your post, it looks like it could be a standing issue, maybe supremacy or commerce clauses.  You have to realize when you read popular press accounts of proceedings and decisions, much of what is reported in meaningless without an exposition of the procedural posture.

    Just a request, not a criticism.  

  2. This should be interesting with the Robert’s court taking up Medicaid and probably The Affordable Care Act in the near future.

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