Motion to Dismiss in AZ AHCCCS expansion case to be heard today

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

The Arizona Republic reports, Medicaid battle heads to court:

The battle over Medicaid expansion in Arizona moves to the courtroom today[.]

* * *

Led by Senate President Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, and House Speaker Andy Tobin, R-Paulden, all but two of the lawmakers who were on the losing side of the June vote sued to challenge one of the biggest public-policy changes in Arizona in decades.

They are joined by two residents and the director of the Arizona branch of the limited-government advocacy ["Kochtopus"] group Americans for Prosperity. [The "Kochtopus" Goldwater Institute is providing the lawyers.]

The case revolves around whether the Legislature had the authority to approve the funding plan that would be used to pay the state’s share of expanded Medicaid coverage.

* * *

The GOP lawmakers and allies argue that because the tax vote fell short of the two-thirds supermajority needed to approve a tax, the move was unconstitutional.

They also argue that Brewer’s plan violates the separation of powers because it allows an executive-branch agency, AHCCCS, to set that rate, rather than the Legislature.

* * *

Brewer, along with her supporters, is asking Judge Katherine Cooper to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that none of the plaintiffs have proper legal standing to challenge the policy move.

Hospitals have such standing, but they are not suing. In fact, many of Arizona’s hospitals and health-care providers are strong supporters of Brewer’s plan, which they believe will ease the crush of uninsured patients who crowd their emergency rooms.

In court filings, attorneys for Brewer and the state’s AHCCCS director argue that their opponents are turning to the courts to settle a political dispute.

“Courts cannot, and should not, become involved in internal, legislative disputes,” they wrote.

[This is known as the "political question" doctrine and comity under the separation of powers doctrine.]

The Arizona Republic previously reported, Brewer’s lawyers: Suit challenging Medicaid expansion has no merit:

Arizona lawmakers on the losing side of the Medicaid expansion vote have no legal authority to stop the new law that broadens eligibility for low-income residents, attorneys for Gov. Jan Brewer argued in a court filing Wednesday.

Brewer’s attorneys asked Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper to dismiss the lawsuit, filed last month by the conservative Goldwater Institute, saying the court should not get involved in a legislative dispute.

The Republican lawmakers “are a disgruntled faction within the Legislature that was outvoted by a bipartisan coalition,” wrote Douglas Northrup, an attorney with Fennemore Craig. “Legislators’ alleged injury is a loss of legislative and political power.”

Three other plaintiffs — two constituents and the state director of Americans for Prosperity — also lack authority to sue, he argued, largely because they can’t show they’ve suffered any harm from the portion of the law that’s being challenged, which is an assessment on hospitals to help pay for expansion.

“If the court found that standing to challenge a law’s constitutionality is found with such tenuous allegations of injury, every constituent whose legislator voted against an allegedly unconstitutional bill would have standing,” Northrup wrote.

He argued that the Arizona Supreme Court recognized the limits of legislative standing in a 2003 case, ruling that individual legislators did not have authority to challenge then-Gov. Janet Napolitano’s line-item veto authority.

The case, Biggs, et al. vs. Brewer, et al. (CV2013-011699) will be heard by Judge Kathleen Cooper at 3:00 p.m. in Maricopa County Superior Court East Court Building, Suite: 514.

Judge Cooper will take the matter "under advisement" and rule on the motion to dismiss at a later date.

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