Supreme Court defers on Medicaid cuts

A U.S. Supreme Court has given providers the continued opportunity to sue over cuts in the Medicaid program, reported the Los Angeles Times and Politico.

The High Court voted 5-4 to send a longstanding case, Douglas v. Independent Living Center, back to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The case involves providers in California suing over cuts to the Medicaid program. The plaintiffs cited the Supremacy Clause as a cause for action in the case, claiming that the federal Medicaid law should supersede cuts made at the state level.

However, the Supreme Court ruled that because changes were made in Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program, since the litigation had been initiated, the Supremacy Clause argument had been rendered moot.

The decision allows for providers to continue with their suit to battle the cuts. Both California officials and providers claimed victory in the decision.

James Hay, president of the California Medical Association, called the court's decision a "win for physicians and their patients" and said "the state cannot continue to propose sweeping cuts to programs for California's poorest and most vulnerable patients."

But Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for the minority, said that the plaintiffs may have to change their legal strategy to continue with their suit.

For more information:
- read the L.A. Times article
- read the Politico article