Health Care Cuts of $1 Billion Push States to Court

MANHATTAN (CN) – Four days before Christmas, the Trump administration’s Department of Health and Human Services unveiled deep cuts to state subsidies that sustain the health care of poor people.

New York and Minnesota fired back in court on Friday, saying the cuts will drain more than $1 billion from programs that provide health care to 800,000 low-income residents.

President Donald Trump slashed the budget for what is known as the Basic Health Programs when Congress failed multiple times to repeal the federal health care law known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

As laid out in emails they received from HHS on Dec. 21, the first quarter alone will see a $266 million cut to New York’s program and a $32 million cut to Minnesota’s.

“The abrupt decision to cut these vital funds is a cruel and reckless assault on New York’s families – and we will not allow it,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement. “I won’t stand by as the federal government continues to renege on its most basic obligations in a transparent attempt to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.”

Last July, Schneiderman told a crowd of 500 people gathered in New York City’s Mount Sinai hospital that he would not be afraid to sue if congressional Republicans passed a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

“My brothers and sisters, I’ve developed a bit of a reputation since January as a guy who sues Donald Trump and the federal government a lot,” Schneiderman said at the time.

From immigration, health care, to the environment, Schneiderman has been a constant thorn in the Trump administration’s side, with a new legal challenge for any facet of the president’s political agenda.

“Now my lawsuits against the Trump administration may not have won me a lot of fans in Washington, but they’re not my concern,” he told the crowd. “You are.”

Schneiderman filed Friday’s lawsuit in Manhattan. His co-counsel in the case, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson, framed the litigation as an effort to balance the ledger between her state’s taxpayers and the IRS.

“For each dollar Minnesota sends to Washington D.C., we get just 53 cents back,” she wrote. “This lawsuit seeks to avoid Minnesota losing hundreds of millions of dollars of payments in the coming years.”

A representative for the Department of Health and Human Services declined to comment.

The lawsuit charges the agency and its Secretary Eric Hargan with four counts of violating the Administrative Procedures Act, a federal law mandating that agencies provide the public notice and a period to comment on changes to the programs that serve them.
“If allowed to continue, the defendants’ unlawful actions will inflict significant financial injury on the states by forcing them to cover this dramatic loss in federal funding to avoid jeopardizing programs that provide over 800,000 low-income people with access to affordable health care,” the 47-page complaint states.

In New York, Basic Health Programs funded what is known as the Essential Plan, which Attorney General Schneiderman called a “lifeline for over 700,000 low-income New Yorkers.”

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