Appeals court skeptical of challenge to Medicaid expansion

February 14, 2017 GMT

PHOENIX (AP) — The Latest on a hearing on a legal challenge to a fee that funds Arizona’s Medicaid expansion program (all times local):

11:40 p.m.

An Arizona Court of Appeals panel appears skeptical of arguments raised by challengers to a fee supporting the state’s costs of expanding Medicaid coverage.

Three judges sharply questioned a lawyer representing some Republican lawmakers who sued to try to overturn the hospital assessment approved by a majority of state lawmakers. Christina Sandefur says the hospital assessment required a 2/3 majority to pass and an exception can rarely if ever apply.

Judge Paul McMurdie got nods from the other two judges Tuesday when he said Sandefur’s argument was illogical.


Former Gov. Jan Brewer pushed Medicaid expansion through the Legislature in 2013 and it has since added about 400,000 people to the program. She was in court and said it has saved lives, brought money into the state and kept rural hospitals from shutting down.

The appeals court will issue its opinion later.

7:40 a.m.

The Arizona Court of Appeals on Tuesday will consider Republican state lawmakers’ challenge to the Medicaid expansion that former Gov. Jan Brewer pushed through the Legislature four years ago.

A three-judge panel will be hearing arguments on the legality of a hospital assessment that pays the state costs of insuring more than 400,000 low-income residents.


Brewer battled fellow Republicans in the Legislature for months over the expansion. The state’s share of its costs are paid by an assessment on hospitals, which Republican lawmakers who sued call a tax that required to a 2/3 majority vote to pass.

A trial judge in 2015 sided with Brewer and state Medicaid director Tom Betlach, with a judge ruling the assessment was not a tax.

The Goldwater Institute, representing the GOP lawmakers, appealed.