As the nation followed the arguments held before the Supreme Court over whether the court should overturn parts or all of the Affordable Care Act, legal experts have stated that the court’s decision may extend beyond the healthcare reform law and affect other programs and the nature of the way the states interact with the federal government.
Under the current Medicaid program, people are eligible for coverage only if there are elderly, children, pregnant women, or people with disabilities, and if they also meet poverty criteria. The Affordable Care Act expands the coverage provisions beginning in 2014 to include anyone that meets specific poverty criteria regardless of any other condition.
The states challenging the healthcare reform law say that this Medicaid expansion is coercive and should not be allowed by the Supreme Court. Medicaid is a voluntary program that states are not required to participate in. If they choose to do so they receive federal government funding only if they comply with the federal requirements. The states in the suit against the healthcare law say this is coercive.
Though no lower court agreed with the coercion argument, the Supreme Court can alter the way the Federal government interacts with the states by agreeing with the coercion claim. If it does agree, other federal programs that provide for child welfare services, educational funds, and other programs may also be jeopardized as they too may now be deemed coercive. We will have to wait until later this summer when the court is expected to issue its final ruling.