AZ Supreme Court Hears Arguments About Whether To Drop Medicaid Expansion Lawsuit

By Alexandra Olgin
Published: Thursday, November 6, 2014 - 5:56pm
Updated: Thursday, November 6, 2014 - 5:58pm

The Arizona Supreme Court heard oral arguments Thursday about whether the Medicaid expansion can continue. Thirty-six legislators are suing Governor Jan Brewer and the Director of the Arizona Medicaid system because they claim the vote for bill was unconstitutional. 

Expanding Medicaid in Arizona added more than 300,000 low-income residents. The lawmakers claim the expansion meant a tax increase. But a voter approved law passed in 1992 says to impose a tax increase, lawmakers need a supermajority vote. The Medicaid expansion bill passed with a majority but not a supermajority. The legislators are claiming expansion isn’t constitutional. According to Governor Brewer's attorney Timothy Berg, it’s not the case that’s the problem, it’s the people suing.  

“The purpose of the statute isn’t to protect the right of legislators to vote, it’s to protect taxpayers," Berg said. "And again the person who ought to vindicate the rights of taxpayers are the taxpayers, not members of the legislature who are politically unhappy with what’s happened.”

The attorney for the legislators said Medicaid expansion is dependent on funds assessed from hospitals, so if the vote is unconstitutional the legislature needs to find another way to pay for the expansion. This case was dismissed by a Superior Court in February and then overturned by an appeals court a few months later.

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