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August 01, 2012 10:44 AM Did the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation Blow It?

By Austin Frakt

Sara Rosenbaum and Timothy Westmoreland argue that the CBO and JCT incorrectly interpreted the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Medicaid expansion. That interpretation is an extremely important issue. Provided the GOP doesn’t sweep in November, it may be the most important health policy issue in the next few years, though there will be plenty of other big ones too.

The new CBO/JCT analysis seems to assume that states may also choose a middle ground of only partially implementing the ACA’s Medicaid expansion. [However], there is nothing in the Court’s ruling or the text of the ACA that allows states to partially implement the expansion on their own or allows the Secretary of Health and Human Services to give states this flexibility outside the limitations of a formal demonstration program.

As I noted earlier this week, and Rosenbaum and Westmoreland do in their post as well, demonstrations under the new Medicaid waiver rules have less wiggle room than previously. In short, it is not so clear that states can do or the Secretary can approve what the CBO and JCT presume. I encourage you to read the full piece.

[Cross-posted at The Incidental Economist]

Austin Frakt is a health economist and an assistant professor at Boston University's School of Medicine and School of Public Health. He blogs at The Incidental Economist.