At a hearing this morning, attorneys representing nearly 40 hospitals told Hinds County Judge William Singletary the plan violates his previous ruling. In July, Singletary ruled that the Republican governor cannot bypass lawmakers to raise hospital taxes to pay for Medicaid.

A private attorney hired by Barbour’s office said the hospitals’ legal challenge is premature, since the governor’s plan has not received the federal approval required before it can be enacted.

“We’ve got the cart way before the horse, Your Honor,” attorney Stephen Thomas said. Attorney General Jim Hood, a Democrat whose office previously defended Barbour’s position, withdrew from the case this week.

Clarion Ledger