from the Superior Court in Maricopa County No.
LC2014-000540-001 The Honorable Crane McClennen, Judge,
Jackson White PC, Mesa By Richard Tyler White Counsel for
Johnston Law Offices PLC, Phoenix By Logan T. Johnston, III
Counsel for Defendants/Appellants.
Jon W. Thompson delivered the opinion of the Court, in which
Presiding Judge Diane M. Johnsen and Chief Judge Michael J.
The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS)
appeals from a final judgment overturning its director's
decision denying Patrick McGovern's application for
Medicaid benefits. We reverse the trial court's judgment.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
AHCCCS denied McGovern's application for Medicaid
benefits under its long-term care program, the Arizona
Long-Term Care System (ALTCS), finding McGovern's
"countable" income and "countable"
resources exceeded the qualifying limits. McGovern appealed
the decision, arguing that certain assets were
"unavailable" because he was unable to access
The denial turned on whether McGovern's three Bank of
America (BOA) accounts, owned jointly with his daughter, and
a Ford Focus he owned, but that was in his daughter's
possession and titled in both their names were properly
counted as resources. McGovern's monthly pension was
deposited in one of the three bank accounts. McGovern's
sister held a power of attorney to access his assets because
McGovern lacked mental capacity to control them.
Under BOA's policy, co-owners of a bank account each may
exercise control over the account without the consent of the
other, but both account owners must sign a "Joint Owner
Acknowledgement" to allow a third-party to access the
account using a power of attorney. Under the policy, even
though McGovern lacked capacity to exercise control over his
BOA accounts, the bank would not permit McGovern's sister
to exercise his power of attorney to access his accounts
without the signed consent of McGovern's daughter.
McGovern's daughter refused to consent.
An administrative law judge (ALJ) recommended McGovern's
appeal be denied, reasoning that while there were practical
impediments to accessing the resources, the applicable
regulations do not disallow resources subject to
institutional or lack of cooperation impediments, and the
resources were otherwise legally available. The
Director of AHCCCS issued a decision adopting the ALJ's
recommendation and AHCCCS's argument that McGovern's
position would encourage fraudulent collusion by joint owners
to render assets "unavailable."
McGovern's representatives timely appealed the AHCCCS
Director's decision to the superior court. There,
McGovern's attorneys argued the Director's decision
was arbitrary and capricious, contrary to law, and
unreasonable. After briefing and oral argument, without
explanation, the court adopted McGovern's arguments and
authorities and reversed the Director's decision. The
court also ordered AHCCCS to pay McGovern's nursing home
for his care from the date of his AHCCCS application until he
died, and his requested ...