KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

High Court Hears Medicaid Case, Weighs Right To Object To Cuts

The Supreme Court kicked off its new term Monday by hearing arguments in a key Medicaid case that tests whether providers and patients can go to court to challenge decisions by cash-strapped states to reduce Medicaid payments.

Los Angeles Times: High Court Hears Key Medicaid Case
The Supreme Court justices opened their new term Monday by hearing a major health care case that tests whether judges can stop California and other cash-strapped states from cutting their payments to doctors and hospitals who serve low-income patients. The case heard Monday will probably affect how much money is available to pay for medical care for more than 50 million Americans, about half of them children, who depend on Medicaid (Savage, 10/3).

San Francisco Chronicle: U.S. Supreme Court Hears Medi-Cal Fee-Cut Case
With hundreds of millions of dollars at stake, California and the Obama administration urged the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to let the state cut fees to Medi-Cal health care providers without being subject to lawsuits by doctors, hospitals or any of the 7.6 million poor people served by the program. Federal courts have prevented reductions of up to 10 percent in Medi-Cal reimbursements since 2008, saying the state had failed to show that further cuts in the fees would allow equal access for health care to the poor, as federal law requires. … The court did not consider the legality of California's reductions, only whether private citizens could sue to challenge them (Egleko, 10/4).

The New York Times: For Justices' First Day Back, A Knotty Case Involving Medicaid Cutbacks
The justices were not focused on the ultimate question of whether state officials were entitled to address the budget crisis there by lowering payments to medical providers. Rather, they considered the threshold question of whether the providers and Medicaid recipients were entitled to sue over the move (Liptak, 10/3).

The Washington Post: Supreme Court Opens Term With Medicaid Cut Case
The Supreme Court began its new term Monday with a complicated case about whether those who provide care and receive benefits under the Medicaid program for the poor can go to court when a state tries to cut spending on the program. California, which for budget reasons reduced its reimbursement rate for the program by 10 percent, and the Obama administration say individuals do not have a right to go to court (Barnes, 10/3).

USA Today: Supreme Court Weighs Right To Object To Medicaid Cuts
The California dispute started in 2008 when the state Legislature began cutting Medicaid reimbursement rates by up to 10 percent to try to solve the state's budget crisis. Medicaid patients and health care providers sued California, arguing that the cuts violated federal law requiring payments sufficient to assure access to and quality of care. A U.S. appeals court blocked the rate cuts (Biskupic, 10/3).

The Associated Press: New Supreme Court Term Begins With Medicaid Case
The Supreme Court began its new term Monday by weighing who gets to object when a state makes Medicaid cuts — and soon is likely to plunge into a far bigger health dispute. That's the challenge to President Barack Obama's historic health care overhaul. For now, patients and providers are squaring off against California and the Obama administration to argue they should have the right to sue in federal court when a state cuts its payment rates in the Medicaid program for poor Americans (10/3).

CQ HealthBeat: States And Providers Face Off At The High Court Over Medicaid
States and health care providers are keeping a close eye on a suit argued Monday in the U.S. Supreme Court over whether hospitals, doctors, patients and other private parties can sue a state when it doesn't meet federal Medicaid payment requirements. It was the first case of the court's new term and likely won't be the last major health care battle to be brought before the justices in the coming months. Petitions were filed last week asking the high court to hear federal appeals court decisions on the health care law. The issue of suing over Medicaid is an important one for states faced with cutting budgets and services in the midst of the continuing economic downturn. Providers say it also has implications for implementing the federal health care overhaul law (Norman, 10/3).

The Hill: Supreme Court Hears Arguments In Medicaid Payments Lawsuit
Lawyers for California and the federal government urged the Supreme Court on Monday not to let patients and doctors sue over cuts to Medicaid payments. The court heard oral arguments in Douglas v. Independent Living Center, a suit filed by several health care providers after California, which is experiencing a budget crisis, cut its Medicaid payments by 10 percent. The two sides clashed over who has the final say on Medicaid payment rates, and whether Congress intended to let suits like this one go to trial (Baker, 10/3).

National Journal: Supreme Court Hears Arguments In California Medicaid Suit
A pack of patient groups and others sued, and the Health and Human Services Department refused to approve the cuts. In the Supreme Court case, California and the Obama administration have sided together against the providers and advocates, arguing that only HHS has the authority to decide on such matters. Justice Stephen Breyer said he was troubled by the idea of giving federal judges too much authority to weigh in on the large number of payments made under Medicaid. Justice Elena Kagan suggested California was making an end-run around the regulatory process. "We did not do an end-run around anything," replied Karin Schwartz, a deputy state attorney general. A decision is expected by spring (Fox, 10/3).

Reuters: Top Court Considers California Medicaid Cuts
The Supreme Court opened its new term on Monday and considered whether Medicaid recipients and medical providers may sue California for cutting reimbursement rates in the health care program for low-income Americans. The justices heard arguments in a case that centered on the plan by California's lawmakers in 2008 to slash Medicaid payments to doctors, hospitals and other medical providers to help reduce the state's massive budget deficit (10/3).

CNN: Justices Open New Term With Big Case On Medicaid Funding
At issue is whether health care providers can sue California for cutting Medicaid reimbursement rates. Lawmakers slashed those rates three years ago in an effort to resolve a mounting state budget deficit. Medicaid payments typically take up the bulk of a state's budget. As the largest state in the union, California, also boasts the single largest Medicaid clientele. Among the cuts were a 10 percent across-the-board reduction on payments and reimbursement rates due to doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, nursing homes, and other health care providers. Medicaid is the 46-year-old joint program offering a variety of health and long-term services to the poor, elderly, and disabled. Each state has discretion to structure benefits, eligibility, service delivery, and payment rates under guidelines established by federal law. State Medicaid spending is roughly "matched" by the federal government, averaging about 57 percent, based largely on per capita income (Mears, 10/3).

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