Tea party challenge to Kentucky Medicaid expansion can move forward, judge rules


FRANKFORT, KY. — A Franklin Circuit Court judge ruled Monday that a tea party lawsuit challenging expansion of Kentucky’s Medicaid program can move forward despite objections from the Beshear administration.

The administration had asked the court last month to dismiss the case on grounds that tea party activist David Adams, who filed the suit, lacked legal standing and the matter was not ripe for adjudication.

But Judge Phillip Shepherd denied the motion in a four-page order affirming Adams’ right as a citizen to challenge whether the expansion complies with the state constitution. He also found that the case involved a “genuine controversy” that the court should hear.

“It is fundamentally the duty of the court system to decide disputes over whether government officials have exceeded their statutory and constitutional powers,” Shepherd wrote.

Kerri Richardson, spokeswoman for Gov. Steve Beshear, said the administration disagreed with the decision but will continue to “vigorously defend” the expansion.

Meanwhile, Adams released a statement that accused Beshear’s attorney of not recognizing the rights of citizens.

“The judge rejected that argument, so now we go on to see if the executive and legislative branches can keep robbing us to buy votes for themselves,” he said. “I don’t think they can.”

Beshear announced in May that Kentucky would expand Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare — a move that will add 308,000 uninsured Kentuckians to Medicaid rolls next year.

Beshear has argued the expansion would create $15.6 billion in economic benefits while securing a windfall of federal funding for the state. But some Republicans critics have raised questions over costs.

The federal government will cover the entire expense of the expansion for the first three years. Kentucky would then assume a small percentage of the cost, which is set to gradually increase to 10 percent by 2021.

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