Arizona Supreme Court Will Decide On Two Words Impacting State Health Care

Published: Monday, June 19, 2017 - 8:53am

Healthcare coverage for thousands of Arizonans is balancing on two small words with a very large impact. 

In an effort to preserve funding for Arizona’s Medicaid program, the Governor's office has asked the State Supreme Court to decide between two words: A “tax” or an “assessment.”

It is more than wordplay, according to the State Constitution, if the court decides the levy that funds the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System is a “tax,” it would require a two-thirds vote of approval by both the House and Senate.  The Republican-led legislature is in favor of calling it a “tax.”

If it is an “assessment,” as the Governor’s attorneys claimed in legal papers filed Friday, it would allow the AHCCS program to continue collecting $265-million a year in hospital levies and federal matching funds.

Approximately 400,000 Arizonans living below the poverty line could lose their coverage if the court rules it is a tax.

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