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Medicaid Preemption Remedy Survives Supreme Court Challenge

By Rochelle Bobroff

As access to federal courts narrows, Medicaid beneficiaries increasingly rely on preemption claims as the basis for litigation to challenge state laws that conflict with the Medicaid statute. In a 5-to-4 decision in Douglas v. Independent Living Center the U.S. Supreme Court, after granting certiorari on whether preemption claims confer federal jurisdiction over such Medicaid claims, ducked the question. Instead it left intact a Ninth Circuit ruling upholding a preemption claim and remanded the case for consideration under the Administrative Procedure Act. The dissenters, proposing a drastic narrowing of Ex parte Young, contend that the supremacy clause does not support private parties’ enforcement of spending clause statutes that lack an express right of action.

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