House Speaker Tim Moore, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have asked a federal court to postpone Medicaid expansion litigation so that President Donald Trump’s administration can evaluate the issues in the case.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has also agreed not to take any action in the meantime on a request from North Carolina to expand Medicaid.
Berger and Moore filed a lawsuit earlier this month against both the state and federal Department of Health and Human Services in reaction to Gov. Roy Cooper announcing plans to expand Medicaid. There is a court hearing scheduled to take place Friday morning in New Bern.
At the time the suit was filed, the federal Department of Health and Human Services was under former President Barack Obama’s leadership. It’s now under the control of Trump, who has been clear about his intentions to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which allows states to expand Medicaid.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is not a party to the joint motion that was filed late Wednesday, and the document indicates that the state’s position on the request to stay litigation is unknown.
Plaintiffs and Federal Defendants hereby move the Court to stay this litigation for a period of 60 days to allow time for incoming officials in the new administration to evaluate the issues in this case. While the stay would allow the temporary restraining order to expire as scheduled on January 28, Federal Defendants have agreed that, should State Defendants follow through on their previously announced intention to submit the proposed State Plan Amendments (or any similar proposal seeking to expand Medicaid eligibility) notwithstanding what Plaintiffs contend are violations of N.C. Session Law 2013-5 and federal law, the Federal Defendants will take no action on any such proposal for a period of 89 days other than to review the proposal and request any additional information from the State Defendants that the Federal Defendants determine is necessary for them to complete their review of the proposal. Federal Defendants expressly represent that in no event will the proposal be approved by any federal government agency or official before 89 days have elapsed from the receipt of any submission.
At the end of the 60 days, Berger, Moore and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will alert the court as to whether or not a dispute in the case still exists, the document states. If there is still a dispute at that time, litigation would continue.
Unrelated to the new motion, the state Department of Health and Human Services filed a motion tonight in opposition to the lawsuit and in support of its own motion to vacate a temporary restraining order preventing North Carolina from expanding Medicaid. You can read the document here.