A coalition of 79 groups has filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in the case, Florida v. HHS (United States Department of Health and Human Services).
The amicus brief, or “friend of the court” brief, is a response to the State of Florida’s lawsuit that seeks to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The document says the Supreme Court’s challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid eligibility will endanger a range of federal-state programs.
Law professor Samuel Bagenstos of the University of Michigan Law School and attorneys with the Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law filed the amicus brief on February 17th. The signers include education, healthcare, veterans, child welfare, disability and women's sports organizations.
“Florida and 25 other states in this case make a very dangerous argument with far-reaching implications. From federal foster care and child support enforcement programs to federal support for low-income schools, children, and participation of girls and young women in school sports teams – much more is at stake here than just Medicaid,” Bagenstos said.
The State of Florida filed its lawsuit in March 2010, when the PPACA was passed into law, arguing that it is unconstitutional to require all Americans to purchase health insurance. Attorneys general from 25 other states have joined Florida in the case along with the National Federation of Independent Business. The case has been winding its way through the court system for the last two years and has landed in the Supreme Court after the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the PPACA in August 2011, which overturned a lower court ruling in favor of the act.
“The Affordable Care Act's expansion of Medicaid eligibility is constitutional,” said Linda D. Kilb, an attorney with the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund. “If the Supreme Court holds that this expansion of Medicaid eligibility is unconstitutional, then an array of cooperative federal-state spending programs and antidiscrimination laws could become subject to constitutional challenge.”
“If the state disagrees with the conditions tied to the federal money, the state can decline the money,” said Ira Burnim, legal director of the Bazelon Center, a national legal-advocacy organization representing people with mental disabilities. “The State will have to answer to its residents about why it declined federal money, but that is democracy – not coercion.”
The Supreme Court is expected to hear oral arguments in Florida v. HHS in late March.
This article was published in the April 2012 issue of Able News.