Arizona Medicaid Lawsuit Could Cost 300,000 People Their Health Insurance

| by Edward Arnold
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An Arizona lawsuit could derail Gov. Jan Brewer's Medicaid expansion plan to insure around 300,000 people.

The Medicaid expansion plan is from the Affordable Care Act and would allow the federal government to pay for the entire cost of the expansion until 2017, when the state of Arizona would have to cover 10 percent. The plan would insure thousands of low-income Arizonians with health coverage.

However, for Gov. Brewer, who leaves office on Jan. 5, could see her achievement blow away as incoming Gov. Doug Ducey could stop the lawsuit. He has been opposed to the expansion, but has not said whether he will drop out of the lawsuit.

Gov. Brewer remains hopeful.

"I am abundantly confident that Arizona will ultimately prevail, and that the state will be able to focus on implementing one of the most meaningful and critical health care policies in years - the restoration of crucial, cost-effective care to thousands of Arizonans," she said.

The plan was passes back in June of 2013.

But Arizona isn't the only state implementing the Medicaid expansion plan. The Associated Press writes that 27 states and the District of Columbia are embracing the expansion. Although most of the states are democratic, Arizona is one of the few Republican states to call for the plan.

Hospitals in the state support the expansion because it would eliminate them from providing uncompensated care to low-income patients. Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association CEO Greg Vigdor explained the significance of the ruling.

"Today's ruling places all of this at risk - threatening life-saving health coverage for Arizona families and potentially blowing an even larger hole in our State budget," he said. "On behalf of Arizona hospitals, AzHHA asks Gov.-elect Ducey to continue a strong defense of the Medicaid Restoration."

The lawsuit comes down to whether or not the Medicaid assessment is a tax or not. Brewer and her legislature passed the plan with a simple majority, and argue it is not a tax. Lawmakers argue it is a tax, meaning it was passed unconstitutionally because it did not receive the two-thirds vote threshold needed for tax policy.

The courts decision did not decide on that issue. The ruling was that the case should be heard and not thrown out, as Brewers legal team has pushed for.

"Regardless of how the case ultimately comes out, today's decision means that lawmakers can't vote to ignore the Constitution," said Christina Sandefur, an attorney for Goldwater Institute, opposing Gov. Brewer.

Source: Associated Press, Think Progress / Photo Credit: Fox News