TOPEKA – (June 23, 2015) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt today asked a Congressional committee to investigate coercive practices by the federal Department of Health and Human Services designed to force states to expand their Medicaid programs.
In a letter to Rep. Fred Upton, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Schmidt and nine other state attorneys general asked the Committee to investigate the efforts of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to coerce states into expanding their Medicaid programs by withholding unrelated health care funding.
“The United States Supreme Court has made clear that the federal government cannot compel states to administer federal programs, and CMS’s recent decisions to deny unrelated federal health care funding based on a state’s non-expansion of Medicaid constitutes unlawful coercion,” the attorneys general wrote.
Earlier this year, CMS informed Florida that it would no longer provide funding to support its Low Income Pool unless and until Florida expanded its Medicaid program as contemplated by the federal Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.” Kansas has a similar program and is facing similar threats from CMS.
The attorneys general wrote that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in 2012 that the federal government could not withhold all Medicaid funding from states that chose not to expand their Medicaid programs provides clear direction that CMS’s actions are unlawful.
“The Supreme Court said that it is up to the states to decide whether to expand their Medicaid programs,” Schmidt said. “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.”
Florida has filed a lawsuit against the federal government for its unlawful coercion.
Schmidt led today’s letter along with the attorney general of Texas. They were joined by the attorneys general of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina and Utah. A copy of the letter is available at http://1.usa.gov/1QOt76p.