The Legal Nexus

A blog of the Maricopa County Bar Association

Attorneys Ask Arizona Supreme Court to Enjoin State’s Planned Freeze on Medicaid Enrollment to Take Effect July 1

Three public-interest law firms have asked the Arizona Supreme Court to place an injunction and expedite consideration of their request for a special action on Gov. Jan Brewer’s plan to freeze enrollment in the state’s Medicaid program. Brewer’s petition to freeze enrollment for about 140,000 adults who earn the same as or less than the federal poverty level would take place July 1, despite voters’ determination through passing Proposition 204 in 2000 that that population should be covered.

In their motion for injunctive relief, the petitioners said they are concerned that thousands of low-income Arizonans will be “irreparably harmed” if an injunction is not issued by the Supreme Court.

In Thursday’s motion, attorney Tim Hogan said that it appears the government will approve the state’s request to deny health care eligibility under Medicaid to adults without dependent children who apply after June 30 and parents with an income at or above 75 percent of the federal poverty level who apply after Sept. 30.

“All indications from the federal government are that it will grant Arizona’s request,” Hogan wrote.

The motion says that staff at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services have been in constant communication with staff at Arizona Health Care Cost Containment Services to discuss the phase-out eligibility for the population who would lose coverage and that those at AHCCCS have taken “all necessary steps” to implement the change in eligibility.

Those requesting the injunction and request for expedition include the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest, the William E. Morris Institute for Justice and the Arizona Center for Disability Law.

The petitioners argue that Brewer and lawmakers had no right legally to freeze enrollment or terminate coverage for people whom voters agreed should be covered.

In Thursday’s motion, Hogan said at the very least the court should enjoin the planned freeze in enrollment until it considers the matter at its Sept. 20 conference.

“That would maintain the status quo that has been in place for the last eleven years and reduce any financial impacts associated with an injunction of indefinite duration,” wrote Hogan.

Hogan called Proposition 204 “clear and unambiguous” and wrote that the initiative had prohibited the executive department or Legislature from establishing a cap on the number of eligible persons who may enroll in the system.

“These provisions, by themselves, require the provision of health care benefits to all eligible persons without limitation.”

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June 17, 2011 - Posted by | About Us

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