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Audio and transcript: Third day Supreme Court hearings on healthcare law Medicaid expansion

The Supreme Court justices were divided as oral arguments came to a close over whether to strike down all of President Obama’s healthcare law if they find its individual mandate is unconstitutional.

In a second session on Wednesday, the high court also heard arguments over the law's Medicaid expansion. 

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Medicaid is, legally, a voluntary program operated jointly by states and the federal government. But the states that filed the healthcare suit claimed the new expansion of the program amounts to “coercion” because no state could realistically afford to give up so much federal money. The federal government will initially pay for the entire Medicaid expansion, then cut its share to 90 percent.

Justice Elena Kagan pounced on that fact while questioning Paul Clement, who represented the states. She asked whether it would be coercive to offer him a job paying $10 million per year just because it would be hard to turn down.

Similarly, the states are complaining because they're getting such a large gift from the federal government, she said.

"It's just a boatload of federal money to take and spend on poor people's healthcare," Kagan said. "It doesn't sound very coercive to me."'

The court's conservative justices, however, argued that by threatening to cut off all federal Medicaid funding to states that don't participate in the expansion, the federal government was making a threat it knows it won't have to follow through on.

Click here to read more on The Hill's Healthwatch blog.

March 28 Supreme Court Medicaid Oral Arguments Transcript

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