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].

What is an amicus brief?

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.

The National Health Law Program and 11 other organizations filed this brief in the 7th Circuit in support of the Mr. Talveski, who is alleging the improper chemical restraint and discharge from a state-operated, Medicaid-funded nursing facility. Mr. Talevski’s family filed a lawsuit to enforce his rights under the Nursing Home Reform Act. The family appealed after the district court dismissed the case, holding that Medicaid enrollees cannot enforce the Nursing Home Reform Act. NHeLP’s brief focuses on the judicial and legislative history of private (as opposed to government) enforcement of the Medicaid Act.

The National Health Law Program and ten other organizations filed an amicus brief opposing a group of states’ effort to invalidate the Affordable Care Act, including the Medicaid expansion and other provisions designed to improve the Medicaid program. Texas and twelve other states arguing that the ACA’s minimum coverage provision was unconstitutional and argued that the entire ACA should be struck down with that provision. This amicus brief sets forth the history and purpose of the Medicaid Act and explains how it has improved the lives of hundreds of millions of Americans over its 55-year history.  It details the specific populations who have benefitted from Medicaid coverage, including women, children, people of color, rural populations, and LGBT individuals. It further argues that the Medicaid provisions in the ACA are completely separate from the minimum coverage provision and should not be struck down, regardless of the decision the court reaches on the provision’s constitutionality.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

In 1985, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld a state law restricting the use of public funding for abortions, finding that it did not violate the Pennsylvania Constitution. In January 2019, eight reproductive health centers filed suit seeking reconsideration of that decision and ultimately, a court order requiring the Commonwealth to cover abortions for Medicaid-eligible individuals. The National Health Law Program, along with local counsel at Berner Klaw & Watson LLP, filed an amicus brief in support of the abortion providers.

The National Health Law Program, along with the Center for Medicare Advocacy and Justice in Aging, filed this brief in the Second Circuit in support of the plaintiff. Rosalind Bellin receives Medicaid in New York and needs in-home long term care services to live in her home safely. She was denied the care she needed, but the state and managed care plan would not provide her the due process rights guaranteed by the Medicaid Act and Due Process Clause of the Constitution. The amicus brief explains the importance of due process rights in Medicaid managed care, describing the dominant role that managed care plays in Medicaid and the long history of Congress and the federal agency’s intent to ensure due process for beneficiaries.

National Health Law Program (NHeLP), Justice in Aging, and the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) submitted an amicus brief in the Southern District of New York on behalf of themselves and 47 partners. The brief supports the State of New York and 22 other states’ motion for partial summary judgment against implementation of the Trump administration’s recently finalized rule to restrict the reach of Section 1557, the Affordable Care Act’s ground-breaking anti-discrimination provision. Our amicus argues that this Trump administration rule ignores the plain language of the ACA and is an arbitrary and capricious action by the administration. The 2020 changes to the 2016 Section 1557 rule include sharply limiting what entities must comply with Section 1557; eliminating notice, tagline, and effective communication requirements; and incorporating harmful exemptions from statutes not listed in the ACA, including religious exemptions. The Trump administration’s changes to the Section 1557 rule harm the very people that the ACA was intended to protect and removes critical protections that will impact millions of women, LGBTQ+ individuals, older adults, Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), and individuals with limited English proficiency (LEP). The case in SDNY is one of several cases challenging the rule.

National Health Law Program, Autism Legal Research Center and eight other organizations submitted an amicus brief in the First District of the U.S. Court of Appeals. The brief was filed to address the failure of insurance plans to fully disclose required information about behavioral health services and limitations on those services as required by the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act.

This amicus brief was submitted to provide the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals with information about the serious need for behavioral health services in this country and the importance of meeting the disclosure requirements so that people may identify parity violations and appeal with all the information necessary.

Amicus Project Blog Series

NHeLP is Friending the Courts


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.