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Kagan likens Medicaid expansion to 'a boatload of federal money'

During the last session of Supreme Court healthcare arguments, Justice Elena Kagan challenged states opposing the law's Medicaid expansion, suggesting that the program was not unduly coercive, as they had asserted.

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.

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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."

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