Mayhew v. Burwell, No. 14-1300 (1st Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
For more than twenty years, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) provided Medicaid coverage for nineteen- and twenty-year-old children whose families met low-income requirements. In 2012, Maine DHHS submitted a state plan amendment to the federal DHHS plan seeking to drop that coverage. The federal DHHS Secretary declined to approve the amendment because it did not comply with 42 U.S.C. 1396a(gg), which requires states accepting Medicaid funds to maintain their Medicaid eligibility standards for children until October 1, 2019. Maine DHHS petitioned for review, contending that the statute is unconstitutional under the Spending Clause and violates the doctrine of equal sovereignty as articulated in Shelby County v. Holder. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the statute is constitutional as applied in this case, as (1) application of section 1396a(gg) in these circumstances does not exceed Congress’s power under the Spending Clause; and (2) the equal sovereignty doctrine of Shelby County is not applicable in this case, and any disparate treatment caused by section 1396a(gg) is sufficiently related to the problem the statute was designed to address.