William Kennedy is the Managing Attorney of LSNC’s Sacramento office. He shares with us below his reaction to yesterday’s Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act:
Chief Justice John Roberts limited the traditional extension of the Commerce Clause in the part of the plan that would use the Medicaid infrastructure to expand benefits to the poor who are above poverty. Congress has made many changes over the years to the Medicaid program, most of which I didn’t agree with. As an example, they changed eligibility to bar some immigrant and all undocumented workers. The states could not say no to any of the new eligibility requirements or they would lose funding for the entire program.
The Affordable Care Act was changing eligibility to include those in poverty, the poor and the near poor all who could not be expected to purchase insurance at market rates. The decision effectively says that the states don’t have to accept this new change in eligibility. The only sanction is the loss of the new money.
My concern about all of this is that it places my clients as pawns in a power struggle between the President and Congress. We really need to be prepared to humanize this struggle that will affect mostly people of color and children. Let’s begin the campaign now.