Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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June 17, 2013

Attorneys argue over Medicaid lawsuit

FRANKFORT — An attorney for Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration Monday asked a Franklin Circuit Court Judge to dismiss a tea party activist’s suit challenging Beshear’s decision to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, saying the suit is premature and lacks any demonstration of particular harm to the plaintiff.

Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd heard oral arguments from Patrick Hughes, a northern Kentucky attorney and former deputy state Attorney General hired by the administration to defend the suit, and David Adams who represented himself though he’s not an attorney.

Shepherd has already ruled in a separate suit filed by Adams challenging the establishment of a Health Benefits Exchange where individuals can shop for insurance and a component of the ACA that Adams has legal standing in that case because he’s a Kentucky taxpayer.

On Monday Hughes argued Adams lacks legal “standing” to challenge the decision on Medicaid expansion because he cannot show he suffers any “particularized damage” from the expansion.

Adams responded that “the very idea that the bedrock principle of liberty (is no direct damage) is extremely offensive to me.”

Hughes argued that because the federal government will pay 100 percent of the costs of the expansion for the first three years, Adams’ complaint is properly before a federal court and that regardless of jurisdiction Adams faces no potential individual damage different from any which every other taxpayer faces.

Hughes’ argument is that since Adams faces no “specific, particularized damage” to himself, his argument is a political policy dispute and should properly be argued in the political arena of the legislature rather than in the courts.

He also argued that since there has been no regulatory or administrative action thus far advancing the expansion which must still get approval from the federal government, the issue isn’t “ripe” for adjudication.

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