Roach et al. v. Brewer et al.
On May 23, the Center and the William E. Morris Institute for Justice filed a critically important lawsuit against Governor Jan Brewer's and the legislature's attempt to destroy Arizona's health care system. This lawsuit not only seeks to protect low income individuals who will lose all health care coverage if Brewer and the legislature have their way, but it also seeks to protect Arizona voters whose votes would otherwise be blatantly ignored by the Governor and legislature.
In 2000, Arizona voters initiated and approved Proposition 204, a law ensuring health care coverage (AHCCCS) for any Arizonan whose income falls 100% below the poverty level. These are the poorest of the poor, in a state that has the second highest poverty rate in the nation. Proposition 204 was passed by a majority of Arizona voters in every single county in the state and was approved statewide by 63% of Arizona voters.
Two years before Arizonans embraced Prop 204, Arizona voters approved an amendment to the Arizona Constitution called the Voter Protection Act. This constitutional guarantee explicitly prevents the legislature from enacting laws that defeat or otherwise frustrate the intent and purpose of voter-approved laws such as Prop 204.
Now, eleven years after Arizona voters passed Prop 204, the legislature and Governor are trying to do exactly what the Voter Protection Act forbids. Instead of finding a creative and legal solution to the state's budget crisis, the Governor and legislature have decided to ignore both Prop 204 and the Voter Protection Act and are on the cusp of eliminating health care coverage for up to 150,000 Arizonans every year.
It is no exaggeration to say that AHCCCS is the difference between life and death (or a life full of misery and pain) for many of the 150,000 individuals the Center is representing in this important lawsuit.
For example, this lawsuit represents J.H., a 49 year-old man living in Tucson. He has been diagnosed with chronic atrial fibrillation, which means he has an abnormal heart, stemming from rheumatoid fever he had as a child. J.H. also has high blood pressure, asthma, chronic bronchitis, sinus problems and arthritis in his lower back and joints. Without medication and bi-monthly doctor's visits, J.H. is in severe and constant pain, is dizzy most of the time and has difficulty keeping his balance. On July 8, J.H. was denied health care coverage under AHCCCS due to the unlawful freeze placed on formerly AHCCCS-eligible adults without dependent children. Without medication and medical care, J.H.'s conditions will worsen and he will end up in the emergency room again and again. If J.H. is denied AHCCCS, he will not have the medical care he needs to survive.
J.H.'s story is just one of many tragedies waiting to unfold if the Governor and legislature are allowed to sabotage the will of Arizona voters. The Center is committed to vigorously protect voter-mandated healthcare threatened by the Governor's and legislature's heartless and illegal attempt to rewrite Prop 204.
When the petition for special action was first filed, the Supreme Court scheduled it for consideration in September. The Center then moved for a preliminary injunction and expedited consideration. The Supreme Court denied the request for injunctive relief and declined to accept special action jurisdiction on June 24, 2011. As a result, the Center filed a new action challenging the state's freeze in Superior Court. That case has been titled Fogliano v. Arizona. Please refer to that case for all future information on this issue.