Thursday, February 24, 2011

Senate panel votes to kill Medicaid program - East Valley Tribune: Arizona

Senate panel votes to kill Medicaid program - East Valley Tribune: Arizona

Saying the state can't count on future federal funds, a legislative panel voted Wednesday to make Arizona the first -- and only -- state to withdraw from the federal Medicaid program.

The plan, approved on an 8-5 vote by the Senate Appropriations Committee, would abolish the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, this state's version of Medicaid, effective Oct. 1. In its place, SB 1519 would direct the Department of Health Services to set up a program to provide care for the needy.

But that definition of "needy'' would be far more narrow than it is now.

How narrow?

Current AHCCCS enrollment, in all its programs, now exceeds 1.3 million. But AHCCCS officials said that, with people coming into and leaving the system, it provided care to about 1.8 million Arizonans last year.

By contrast, the plan by Sen. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, would provide free care for only about 80,000.

Some of those not in that group would be able to stay. But it would cost them, with Biggs envisioning a system of premiums, deductibles and co-pays. And he said the state could penalize program participants who seek costly emergency room care for non-emergency situations.

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