PHOENIX — The expansion of the state's health care program and the levy to fund it are legal, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled today.

In a unanimous decision the judges rejected arguments by foes that the assessment on hospitals was a new tax that needed a two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate to approve. The levy did not get that margin.

But appellate Judge Paul McMurdie, writing for the court, said he and his colleagues do not read the Arizona Constitution that way.

The move most immediately preserves care for about 400,000 people who were added to the rolls of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System.