Arizona appeals court hearing challenge to Medicaid plan

PHOENIX - The Arizona Court of Appeals will review on Wednesday the dismissal of a lawsuit challenging Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's Medicaid expansion plan that was filed by fellow Republicans in the state Legislature.

Last month's dismissal handed the Republican governor a major victory in her battle against conservative members of her own party.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper agreed with Brewer that the lawmakers challenging the law don't have the right to sue. Cooper's ruling said their argument that a hospital assessment included in last year's House Bill 2010 was, in fact, a tax that required a supermajority vote of the Legislature under Arizona's constitution was incorrect.

Cooper wrote that it is the Legislature itself that determines if a two-thirds vote is required under a voter-approved constitutional amendment called Proposition 108.

"In short, Plaintiffs are a minority group within the Legislature who lost a battle over H.B. 2010. They do not claim a concrete, individual injury. Rather, they seek to overturn the vote of the House and Senate. The Legislature as a whole did not authorize them to bring this action," Cooper wrote.

A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers Brewer assembled to support her plan voted not to impose that requirement on the law, which expanded the state's health insurance program for the poor, known as the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, or AHCCCS, and imposed the hospital assessment.

The suit was filed by the Goldwater Institute on behalf of 36 Republican legislators and three citizens. Goldwater appealed the dismissal, and the Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments Wednesday afternoon.

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