/ Modified jul 30, 2015 7:40 a.m.

Is Arizona Medicaid Funding Mechanism a 'Tax' or a 'Fee'?

Judge to decide if assessment on hospitals violates state Constitution's two-thirds vote provision.

A battle over how former Gov. Jan Brewer funded the expansion of the state's Medicaid program will go before a judge in Phoenix Thursday, with coverage for 350,000 people at stake.

Lawyers will argue over the constitutionality of the assessment Arizona hospitals pay to the state as part of the state's Medicaid expansion, which Brewer pushed through a reluctant Legislature two years ago.

The case hinges on whether the assessment is a tax that should have been passed by a two-thirds vote in the Legislature or a fee that can be passed by a majority vote.

The state uses the assessment to pay its share of Medicaid expansion costs. The rest are covered by the federal government.

The case was brought by Republican lawmakers who opposed the Medicaid expansion and the Affordable Care Act.

If they prevail, the 350,000 Arizonans who got insurance coverage under the expansion may find themselves without it once again.

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