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7:21 PM Tue, Oct. 23rd

Arizona taxpayers will cough up $2B

Goddard nixes state lawsuit

Jan Brewer

Jan Brewer

KINGMAN - Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard has refused repeated requests from Gov. Jan Brewer to join 14 other state attorneys general in suing the federal government in an effort overturn the new healthcare legislation as unconstitutional.

On Monday Brewer called the bill "financially devastating to the state of Arizona" and "completely unsustainable."

The bill could cost Arizona $400 million next year and more than $2 billion by 2013 by forcing the state to return funding to the KidsCare and the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System. Both systems saw severe cuts in the 2011 state budget. The state would be on its own to fund both programs until federal help arrived in 2014, she said.

Brewer asked Goddard once again to join the multistate lawsuit against the bill. Goddard released a statement Wednesday stating he would not join the lawsuit.

"My office has carefully examined both the federal healthcare legislation and the lawsuits challenging it. Our lawyers agree with the overwhelming majority of constitutional scholars of both parties that the lawsuits have little merit and that participating in them would be a waste of scarce taxpayer dollars," he stated in his news release. "These lawsuits will be considered in federal court with or without Arizona's participation."

He also stated that Arizona's unique healthcare programs, AHCCCS and KidsCare, operate differently than other states' programs and could weaken those states' legal arguments against the bill.

He called on Brewer to turn her attention to protecting funding for the KidsCare program.

Brewer said Wednesday that she will bring Arizona into the lawsuit, if Goddard won't. She believes that her office has the authority to do so.

The new bill would extend medical coverage to 32 million uninsured Americans, prevent heath insurance companies from denying coverage to residents with preexisting conditions, allow young people to stay on their parents' insurance until they are 26, close a gap in Medicare coverage and require all Americans to carry health insurance by 2014.