Justices Limit Medicaid Expansion in 'Obamacare' Ruling
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The Supreme Court upheld President Obama's health care plan. But justices took issue with the expansion of Medicaid.


(Image source: The New York Times )   BY NATHAN BYRNE   The Supreme Court upheld President Obama’s health care law, but limited its expansion of Medicaid. One analyst calls it a short-term win for the president — and a future benefit for conservatives. Here’s CNN . “Throughout the opinion is a real skepticism about the power of the federal government. And for the first time, the Supreme Court said that the government’s powers over funding and states are limited.” The Affordable Care Act says that states are supposed to expand Medicare eligibility to all people under the age of 65 living below 133 percent of the poverty line. WFLA explains — the court basically said the law can require that expansion but can’t punish states that don’t comply. “But even there, said that the expansion could proceed as long as the federal government does not threaten to withhold states’ entire Medicaid allotment if they don’t take part in the law’s extension.” Some financial publications focused on what the ruling means for consumers — and for the insurance industry. The Wall Street Journal says … “Tens of millions of Americans are expected to get insurance coverage under the system that starts in 2014. But fewer people may end up getting covered because the court made changes to the law's Medicaid expansion.” A Forbes writer compares competitors … “In the face of it, this should be negative for major health insurance companies, as it will drive more customers at lower margins, and positive for Medicaid companies.” And a blogger for Barron’s writes that health insurers mostly traded lower after the ruling, because … “ … their costs are expected to rise … because they will be forced to offer affordable coverage to people with preexisting conditions, and they will have to deal with the complications and competition of offering coverage through state-based insurance exchanges.” So, why didn’t Medicaid make it — while the individual mandate did? An article for The Atlantic claims the same logic that saved the rest of the law should have been applied to Medicaid. Instead, he writes … “ … what we are going to see is Republican-controlled state governments refusing to expand Medicaid out of bitter hatred toward President Obama and spite for the working poor who need access to health care.” The trade association that represents Medicaid health plans issued a statement after the ruling. It says the industry will continue to grow as states continue to see Medicaid as part of their budget woes — regardless of whether they participate in the expansion.