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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Federalism, Health Care, and Texas

A July 3 post discussed the federalism implications of the health care law and the subsequent Supreme Court decision. The Associated Press reports:
Gov. Rick Perry said Monday that Texas won't establish an online marketplace for patients to shop for insurance or expand Medicaid, two key elements of the federal health care overhaul.
In a letter sent to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the Republican governor and former presidential candidate said both elements "represent brazen intrusions into the sovereignty of our state."
 “Chief Justice Roberts in his opinion in the health care case declared that Congress could not force states to accept an expansion or risk losing all Medicaid funds,” said Mark McKenzie, an assistant professor of political science [Texas Tech] who teaches, among other classes, a graduate course on judicial politics.
“Gov. Perry is simply taking advantage of the states’ ability to opt out of the new expansions to Medicaid brought about by the president’s health care law,” he explained.
The opinion Roberts wrote for the court in the 5-4 decision “was in line with previous rulings by the Supreme Court that basically say that Congress cannot commandeer state governments and order them to carry out Congress’s policies.”
In this case, McKenzie said, the provisions of “Obamacare” that would have required states to expand Medicare programs or lose all Medicare funding “were seen by the court as unduly coercive” toward the states.
“In some instances, states are seen as co-equal partners with the national government in our process of democracy,” McKenzie said. “Thus, there are limits to what Congress can order the states to do.”