Medicaid and State Sovereignty

Published June 27, 2011

There’s another issue in the Florida case besides the individual mandate that Judge Vinson issued summary judgment on, this time ruling against the states, and that was the challenge to the Medicaid expansion provisions. Those provisions require that states expand their Medicaid programs as a condition of continuing to receive Federal matching grants. On that count Vinson ruled that there was no coercion, because he said there’s no level of economic penalty that the Federal Government could impose on the states that would be so onerous as to be coercive.

The Medicaid issue doesn’t have to do with the commerce clause. This has to do with the spending clause of the constitution, so it tests what the Federal Government can do with its power to tax and spend. The essential question is whether state sovereignty and the state regulatory autonomy that’s so essential to the Federal structure of our constitution is really just a sham. And this is an important issue.

-Mario Loyola, Director of the Center for Tenth Amendment Studies at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, discusses court challenges to Obama’s law on the Health Care News podcast. Listen at: