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NAMI Joins “Friend of the Court Brief” Supporting Medicaid Provisions in the Affordable Care Act

NAMI has joined 38 colleague national organizations in filing an Amicus (Friend of the Court) brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Florida v. HHS challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case on Mar. 26-28, 2012. A decision is expected in late June or early July. While the consolidated cases that the Court will cover a range of issues, including the constitutionality of the individual mandate to have health insurance, the brief that NAMI joined was restricted to a critical issue for children and adults living with mental illness, the law’s expansion of Medicaid eligibility up to 138 percent of the poverty level.

The brief that NAMI joined asserts that the case for overturning the expansion of Medicaid eligibility jeopardizes not just Medicaid, but also a host of other federal programs and antidiscrimination protections that hinge on the Constitution’s “Spending Clause.” The Spending Clause allows Congress to offer states money, with conditions, to encourage states to participate in a joint federal-state effort to address a range of policy needs including safety net services such as mental health services, education, child welfare, highway safety, property rights, and discrimination based on race, gender or disability. If a state disagrees with the conditions that accompany the federal money, the state can decline the money. The brief argues that if the Supreme Court holds that the Medicaid Expansion is unconstitutional, then an array of cooperative federal-state spending programs could become subject to constitutional challenge.

Posted: February 17, 2012