On February 22, 2012, the Supreme Court announced its decision in Douglas v. Independent Living Center of Southern California, et al. The question in this series of cases was whether Medicaid providers and recipients can bring suit under the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause to enforce a federal Medicaid law. In their view that law preempts state Medicaid statutes that would reduce payments to providers, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit agreed.
In an opinion delivered by Justice Breyer, the Court by a vote of 5-4 vacated the Ninth Circuit decisions and remanded the cases for further proceedings. Because a federal agency had approved the state statutes at issue during the course of the litigation, the Court held, the cases should be remanded to the Ninth Circuit for determination as to whether the parties’ dispute should be resolved under the Administrative Procedure Act. Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan joined Justice Breyer’s opinion. Chief Justice Roberts filed a dissenting opinion, which was joined by Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito.
To discuss the case, we have Rick Hills, who is the William T. Comfort III Professor of Law at New York University School of Law.