U.S. Justice Department, N.C. Governor Ask Judge To Dismiss Order On Medicaid Expansion

Jan 17, 2017

The U.S. Justice Department argues the fight over Governor Roy Cooper's proposed Medicaid expansion does not belong in federal court. Its attorneys and Cooper's are asking a federal judge to lift her temporary restraining order on the expansion plans.

Democratic Governor Roy Cooper has started the process of trying to expand Medicaid to cover more low-income people under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Republicans in the state legislature passed a 2013 law forbidding that. Now they're suing Cooper and federal health officials.

U.S. Justice Department attorneys wrote to the federal judge in the case: "No matter the merits of the dispute, it is purely a matter of state law, which this court has no role in settling." They say that the federal judge's restraining order should be dismissed, and that the fight should move to state court. 

Attorneys for Cooper gave another argument for dismissing the temporary order: "There is no actual emergency or crisis." What Cooper has submitted to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is only a first step that does not obligate the state to do anything without legislative approval. Even with approval, it wouldn’t take effect until next year.

Of course, Medicaid expansion may no longer exist by then. Republicans in Congress and the White House are working to repeal Obamacare.