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Wednesday afternoon the high court considered whether the proposed expansion of Medicaid under health care reform breaks the federal-state partnership on health care for the poor.
The 26 states opposing the law say they can’t afford to expand their Medicaid rolls so they’ll have to pull out of the program and lose the federal money that helps them run it. Under health care reform, Medicaid will cover an additional 16 million people with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level.
The Obama administration says the federal government will be picking up most of the tab for the Medicaid expansion. But the states say they’re worried that the federal government won’t follow through on that promise.
If the court strikes down Medicaid expansion, it could have far-reaching consequences.
A broad ruling by a conservative majority in June against Medicaid could shake the shared legal foundation of landmark legislation, including unemployment benefits, the Civil Rights Act and the Clean Air Act. And that, said George Washington University’s Sara Rosenbaum, would “completely change the balance of power of federalism.