Republican states join Florida lawsuit challenging Obamacare … again

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In what is seemingly reminiscent of its 2010 case against Obamacare, Gov. Rick Scott’s lawsuit has picked up steam with Republican-led states.

After verbally committing support governors from Kansas and Texas jointly filed friend-of-the-court briefs with the federal court in Pensacola on Friday.

“Florida won a partial and very public victory against (the federal government) and now the agency is threatening to punish Florida by punching a $1.3 billion hole in its budget unless Florida gives back everything it won from the agency two years ago,” attorneys for the states say in their filings.

The federal government notified Florida in April 2014 that it would not renew the supplemental Medicaid funding to reimburse hospitals beyond this summer. Florida is trying to get the federal government to extend the Low Income Pool program, though. Scott traveled to Washington earlier this week to ask the government to commit to the program, but left empty handed.

Eliminating $1.3 billion from the state’s budget — the federal portion of Low Income Pool money being negotiated in Washington, D.C. — would amount to a 3 percent budget reduction.

While less than the 10 percent that was at risk in NFIB v. Sebeilus, the initial challenge to the Obamacare, the resulting ruling affirmed states’ individual mandates. However, it made the Medicaid expansion portion of the health care law optional because denying Medicaid funding to states that didn’t expand would be coercive.

The figure is higher, attorneys argue, than the amount set in South Dakota v. Dole, which challenged the loss of federal highway funding if states set the legal drinking age under 21.

Florida is one of 19 states that has not expanded Medicaid under the federal health care law, and the politically divisive issue has forced legislators into a Special Session, tentatively scheduled for the first three weeks of June.

The Florida Senate included a Medicaid expansion, and the money that goes along with it, in its proposed budget for 2015-16. The House budget did not.

Meanwhile, Scott’s attorneys asked the court to enjoin the federal government to reconsider its stance on LIP, which Scott’s attorneys said in the lawsuit, would essentially require the federal government to continue funding the program.

Christine Jordan Sexton

Tallahassee-based health care reporter who focuses on health care policy and the politics behind it. Medicaid, health insurance, workers’ compensation, and business and professional regulation are just a few of the things that keep me busy.



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