Medicaid in the Courts Amicus Project

The National Health Law Program’s Amicus Project is a judicial advocacy strategy to protect the rights of low income Medicaid enrollees. With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, NHeLP is working with advocates, providers, enrollees, policy makers, legal experts, and other stakeholders to (1) monitor legal developments in courts that will impact rights and benefits set forth in the Medicaid Act and regulations; (2) forecast opportunities to advance and protect health rights and benefits; (3) submit amicus briefs in cases with a potential impact on Medicaid rights; and (4) engage new allies which have not historically participated in amicus strategies.

For additional information or to participate in the Amicus Project, please contact 213-805-5398 | (310) 204-6010 X 105 or email [email protected].

Exterior photo of a court house featuring classical columns

About the Amicus Project

Through this project, the National Health Law Program is executing a comprehensive monitoring and response system directed at judicial threats to Medicaid. We submit amicus briefs in pivotal cases in order to increase awareness and understanding of the Medicaid program among judges and litigants. We are also providing trainings to stakeholders in order to increase their capacity to engage in the judicial process. Our goal is to encourage judicial rulings that better reflect the complexities of Medicaid coverage—how Medicaid works legally and what coverage means to the more than 70 million Americans who depend on Medicaid for their health care needs.


Cases to Watch

The below section features a list of cases that we are working on as part of our Amicus Project. Each case section includes an overview of the case, issue briefs, and additional resources. Check back often, as this list of cases will grow over the duration of the project.

Doe v. Trump

The National Health Law Program, the American Public Health Association, and 48 other groups filed an amicus brief opposing the President’s October 4, 2019 immigration proclamation. The Proclamation bars the entry of intending immigrants to the United States unless they have “approved health insurance” or “the financial resources to pay for reasonably foreseeable medical costs.” The Proclamation excludes Medicaid and subsidized Marketplace coverage from the definition of “approved health insurance,” but counts ACA-exempt short-term plans which do not provide minimum essential coverage. Our brief focuses on the ways that the Proclamation undermines domestic health care policy, specifically the ACA and Medicaid programs.

June Medical Services v. Gee

Plaintiffs challenged a Louisiana state law placing severe restrictions on abortion providers as an unconstitutional burden on the right to obtain an abortion. The law requires them to have admitting privileges at a hospital located within thirty miles of clinics where they perform abortions. Reversing the District Court, the Fifth Circuit upheld the constitutionality of that law. Plaintiffs petitioned the Supreme Court for a stay of the decision and full review of the case. The Court granted a stay earlier this year and then granted review of the decision in October 2019.

Rosie D. v. Baker

A class of children with serious emotional disturbances sued to compel Massachusetts to provide the services they need as required by the Medicaid Act. In 2006, the Massachusetts District Court ruled that the state had violated the Medicaid Act and entered a remedial plan to ensure that the children received services. The state has asked that the court end the agreement, arguing that they have mostly solved the problems. The court refused, and the state has appealed to the First Circuit Court of Appeals.

Planned Parenthood South Atlantic v. Baker

South Carolina terminated Planned Parenthood as a Medicaid provider because it offers abortion services. Planned Parenthood and an individual patient challenged the termination. The state argued that individuals do not have the right to enforce the Medicaid Act in court.  NHeLP filed an amicus brief explaining the history of individual’s right to enforce the Medicaid Act. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the plaintiffs on October 29, 2019.

Tennessee v. United States

Tennessee challenged the federal Medicaid statute’s requirement to provide Medicaid coverage to refugees as unconstitutionally coercive. Our amicus brief described the history of the Medicaid eligibility for immigrants, highlighting that the requirement to provide Medicaid to refugees has been part of Medicaid’s requirements since its inception in 1965.

Amicus Project Blog Series


Below we will post information about upcoming trainings about amicus briefs. If your organization is interested in learning more about writing amicus briefs, please contact [email protected] for additional information.