Judge hears arguments in anti-Medicaid lawsuit; Plaintiff attorney joins by Skype

State attorney Dario
State attorney Dario Borghesan. Photo: Annie Feidt/APRN.

Superior court judge Frank Pfiffner heard oral arguments this afternoon in Anchorage in the Legislative Council’s case against Gov. Bill Walker to stop Medicaid expansion. The Council filed suit Monday to stop the program from going forward as planned next week, saying the governor doesn’t have the authority to expand Medicaid on his own.

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Erin Murphy, a lawyer for the Legislative Council, spoke by Skype from Washington, D.C., where she is based. She said the case wasn’t about whether Medicaid expansion was a good thing for the state of Alaska but about, “who has the power to make that decision.”

Erin Murphy, a lawyer arguing on behalf of the Legislative Council, joined the hearing by Skype from Washington, D.C. Photo: Annie Feidt/APRN.

Lawyers for the state argued the Council failed to prove the legislature would face ‘irreparable harm’ if Medicaid expansion takes effect on Sept. 1. That’s required for the judge to issue the temporary restraining order the legislature is seeking.

Judge Pfiffner says he’ll issue an oral decision Friday at noon.

Both sides—and the judge—agree no matter how Pfiffner rules, the case is headed to the state’s Supreme Court.