Appeals Court Rules Arizona's Medicaid Expansion Is Legal

By  Will Stone
Published: Friday, March 17, 2017 - 5:00am
Updated: Friday, March 17, 2017 - 9:45am

A panel of judges has upheld Arizona’s Medicaid expansion.

The decision from the state's Appeals Court on Thursday came after years of legal jousting over Arizona’s restoration and expansion of Medicaid for certain groups because of extra funding tied to the Affordable Care Act.

There are certain exceptions in Arizona law that allow for special fees, and the judges agreed the hospital assessment qualified as that.

Republican lawmakers had sued former Gov. Jan Brewer, who spearheaded the expansion efforts.

Brewer was happy with the decision, saying she was "grateful'' the judges interpreted the law in this way.

Represented by the Goldwater Institute, critics argued the way the state paid its share of the costs, a fee on hospitals, was unconstitutional because it amounted to a “tax,” which requires a two-thirds legislative majority to pass.

Christina Sandefur of the Goldwater Institute, representing many current and former Republican lawmakers who voted against the 2013 expansion, vowed to seek Supreme Court review.

Sandefur called the ruling "an absurd result.''

More than 400,000 people in Arizona have joined the state’s Medicaid rolls under the expansion.

Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services contributed to this story.

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