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Supreme Court Upholds Legal Rights of 90 Million Medicaid Beneficiaries

Date: Jun 09 2023

Contact: Media Relations

Joint Statement on Behalf of Health Policy Deans, Scholars, and the American Public Health Association

On June 8, in a 7-2 decision authored by Justice Jackson, the US Supreme Court upheld the legal rights of millions of Medicaid beneficiaries, preserving those rights against unlawful action by state officials and thereby preserving access to health care for millions of vulnerable Americans. The nation’s largest public insurer, Medicaid entitles the poorest and most vulnerable children and adults to comprehensive health coverage and represents the nation’s single largest health care investment in public health.

In Health and Hospital Corp. of Marion County v. Talevski, the Court held that protections enshrined in Medicaid through the Federal Nursing Home Reform Act (FNRA) created a set of unambiguous federal rights protected by Section 1983, which, for over a century and a half has ensured access to the courts by people deprived of federal rights by unlawful state policies and practices. 

More than 40 health policy deans and scholars and the American Public Health Association together filed a friend of the court brief in Talevski, arguing that the court must preserve the legal ability of Medicaid beneficiaries and their advocates to access health care.

Lynn Goldman, Dean of the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health and Georges C. Benjamin, Executive Director of the American Public Health Association issued the statement below on behalf of the public health amici:

The powerful 7-2 ruling by the United States Supreme Court represents a decisive victory for public health and the 90 million children and adults who depend on Medicaid. The decision makes clear that Medicaid creates unambiguous federal rights and upholds the ability of the poorest and most vulnerable Americans to vindicate these rights through Section 1983 when they are denied by unlawful state action. 


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