Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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June 17, 2013

Attorneys argue over Medicaid lawsuit

(Continued)

FRANKFORT —

But Adams responded with two arguments: first that the underlying reason for the challenge is his contention that a 1966 law which gives the administration and the Secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services authority to do what is necessary to access federal Medicaid dollars is a violation of the Kentucky Constitution which prohibits the exercise of “absolute power.”

“That wasn’t (the legislature’s) power to grant,” Adams said.

“You’re saying the underlying statutory basis (for the expansion) is an unconstitutional grant of power by the legislature?” Shepherd asked and Adams answered yes.

Secondly, Adams argued that it’s disingenuous for the administration to argue its decision to expand Medicaid is not certain because information on the Health Benefits Exchange website clearly demonstrates the administration’s intention to secure federal approval for expansion.

 Shepherd summarized Hughes’ argument on that question as claiming Adams’ suit is a “pre-emptive action,” attempting to halt the expansion before it can be done and thereby create a ripe legal question.

But Adams countered there will be no real way for him to challenge the expansion once it’s in place.

“You’re saying there would be no way to un-ring the bell,” Shepherd said and again Adams answered yes.

Adams had filed a motion in response to the administration motion to dismiss the case and Shepherd gave Hughes until Friday to respond in writing.

He said after that, he will take the arguments and motions “under submission and issue a ruling as soon as possible.”

Beshear announced in May he would expand Medicaid to those who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, a provision of the ACA which seeks to create near universal health insurance coverage.

Republican state lawmakers argue Beshear cannot expand Medicaid without legislative approval but Beshear, citing the 1966 law Adams is challenging, says he has the authority to promulgate Medicaid regulations to access available federal Medicaid funds.

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