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AZ judge OKs Medicaid cuts for 135k people

Arizona Daily Star, August 11, 2011

A judge gave the go-ahead Wednesday for the state to deny free healthcare over the next year to about 135,000 poor people. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Mark Brain acknowledged a 2000 voter mandate that the state provide care for everyone below the federal poverty level, and that the Voter Protection Act in the Arizona Constitution prohibits lawmakers from altering or repealing anything approved by voters without taking the issue back to the ballot. But Brain said that does not preclude lawmakers from refusing to provide enough money to the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state's Medicaid program, to cover everyone who is eligible. "The Voter Protection Act prohibits the Legislature from doing numerous things," Brain said. "It does not require the Legislature to do anything. Specifically, it does not require the Legislature to fund programs." And without funds, Brain said Gov. Jan Brewer was free to direct AHCCCS to scale back eligibility.