Fate of healthcare law now before Justices

Mar 28, 2012

The U.S. Supreme Court has concluded its third and final day of arguments in the Florida-led challenge to the federal healthcare overhaul law. Lynn Hatter reports the court took up the issue of whether the law can survive without the central requirement that most Americans carry insurance, and whether the expansion of the Medicaid program is coercive.

Wednesday afternoon Justices turned their attention to whether adding more people to the Medicaid program places a financial burden on states. Florida argues that it does. The law penalizes states with the loss of federal funding if they don’t comply. And the state has estimated the cost of adding people to Medicaid to be in the billions.  But Greg Mellowe, with the Florida healthcare advocacy group Florida CHAIN, says the state’s claims are overblown.

 “This is an expansion. But when the expansion only adds to the state’s burden by less than two-percent a year, that is something not out of control, and unmanageable. The benefits far outweigh the costs.”

Whether that’s true or not is now under consideration by the Supreme Court.  It is expected to issue a ruling on the federal healthcare overhaul law by late June.