Democrats in the US Congress have challenged President Obama and have told the Supreme Court that he has been following a "misguided interpretation of federal Medicaid law," such that it becomes extremely difficult for low-income groups to obtain health care.
Medicaid beneficiaries must be allowed to file suit to enforce their right to care — and to challenge Medicaid cuts being made by states around the country, the Democrats said.
Obama administration, however, maintains that beneficiaries and health care providers cannot go to court against state officials to challenge cuts in Medicaid payment rates, even if such cuts are perceived as reducing health care for the poor.
The Obama administration's position "would undermine the effectiveness of Medicaid," said the Democrats. They also said that it clashes with more than hundred years of court precedents that allow people to sue to block state actions that are inconsistent with federal law.
The brief was filed by seven influential Democrats, including Representative Henry A. Waxman of California, an architect of Medicaid; Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House minority leader; Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Senate majority leader; and Senator Max Baucus of Montana, the chairman of the Finance Committee.
Former federal health officials are also not happy with the administration's plans. They include Donna E. Shalala, the secretary of health and human services under President Bill Clinton; Joseph A. Califano Jr., who was health secretary under President Jimmy Carter; and Bruce C. Vladeck, who was in charge of Medicaid and in the Clinton administration.
Medicaid, the fastest-growing item in many state budgets, provides health insurance to more than 55 million people, including children, people with disabilities and nursing home residents.