Federal District Court Judge blocks Cooper Medicaid expansion

Judge Louise Wood Flanagan prohibits amendment to State Medicaid Plan to expand under Affordable Care Act after state lawmakers file for restraining order

Eamon Queeney—North State Journal
Senate leader Phil Berger reacts to a question as he previews the upcoming short legislative session that will begin April 25 during a press conference at the State Legislative Building in downtown Raleigh

RALEIGH — A federal judge has granted a restraining order on Governor Roy Cooper’s attempts to amend the State Medicaid Plan in order to expand the government healthcare program under Obamacare .Republican leadership at the state legislature requested the order from the U.S. Eastern District Court of N.C. to stop what they deem a fiscally irresponsible overreach of executive power by the new Democratic governor.Legislative leaders have maintained that Cooper lacks the authority to unilaterally expand Medicaid eligibility thresholds with out approval of the General Assembly. “This administration cannot take steps to increase Medicaid eligibility and the state constitution does not allow him to spend billions of state tax dollars to expand Obamacare without legislative approval,” stated a joint press release by Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and House Speaker Tim Moore.The order granted by Judge Louise Wood Flanagan enjoins the Cooper administration from submitting an amendment with out the appropriate approval from the State. Further, it prohibits the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) from approving such an amendment request in the absence of the State’s sanction.State lawmakers asked Congress and CMS to disapprove the governor’s request on Friday. N.C. Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) lauded the news on his facebook page saying, “He left us no other choice. For weeks, Roy Cooper conspired with Barack Obama’s administration to force an illegal Obamacare expansion onto North Carolinians just days before Donald J. Trump is sworn into office.”Berger and Moore also criticized Cooper’s choice this week to lead the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, Dr. Mandy Cohen. Cohen, the CMS’ outgoing chief operating officer, leads the agency that determines approval of the state’s application to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act during the final days of the Obama administration. Republicans say her job offer represents a conflict of interest considering her current federal authority in the matter.The temporary order lasts for 14 days from Saturday, well beyond President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration on January 20.