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AZ Supreme Court refuses AHCCCS case

As the death-penalty caseload piles up for the Arizona Supreme Court, the justices are looking into using Court of Appeals judges to help get through the cases. Ann Scott Timmer, chief judge of the Arizona Court of Appeals Division One, however, says the court  has its own bulging workload to deal with. (Photo by Ryan Cook/RJ Cook Photography)

Arizona Supreme Court building. (Photo by Ryan Cook/RJ Cook Photography)

The Arizona Supreme Court has declined to hear a lawsuit against upcoming cuts to the state’s Medicaid program, clearing the way for a partial enrollment freeze to take effect on July 1.

The court today announced that it had requested a petition for special action from the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest, which filed its lawsuit directly with the state’s highest court instead of the superior courts. The court did not explain why it refused to hear the case, which is common.

Attorney Tim Hogan had asked the court to issue an injunction against the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System’s planned enrollment freeze for childless adults. That request was also denied.

But Hogan said the ruling doesn’t necessarily mean that the enrollment freeze will take place as planned. He said he will file a new case against the cuts on Monday in Maricopa County Superior Court and again seek an injunction.

Hogan said he wasn’t surprised by the Supreme Court’s ruling.

“They had originally scheduled the matter to be heard or considered in September, so apparently they weren’t impressed with the importance of the situation,” said Hogan.

The court initially placed the case on its normal hearing schedule because Hogan did not ask the court for an expedited ruling. He later made such a request.

The enrollment freeze is part of Gov. Jan Brewer’s AHCCCS reform plan and is estimated to save the state about $207 million in fiscal year 2012 by removing about 100,000 patients through attrition. Hogan argued that the plan violates Proposition 204, a 2000 ballot measure that dramatically expanded AHCCCS eligibility, and the Voter Protection Act, which severely restricts the Legislature’s ability to alter voter mandates.

Attorneys for Brewer, AHCCCS, Attorney General Tom Horne and legislative leadership filed several motions in the past several days asking the Supreme Court to reject the case.

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