Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Republicans' wrong-track elimination of health care could cost Arizona billions in federal funding

End of KidsCare could cost state billions from feds
by Casey Newton
The Arizona Republic

Arizona's moves to reduce access to health care for low-income families appear to run afoul of federal reform legislation, putting at risk the state's entire allotment of Medicaid funding.

Gov. Jan Brewer last week signed into law a budget that eliminates health insurance
for about 350,000 adults and children, a move she says is essential to bring government spending in line with shrinking revenue.

But the elimination of KidsCare in June and a planned $385 million cut to the state's Medicaid program in January violate requirements of the health-care reform legislation awaiting President Barack Obama's signature, officials said.

The reform package requires states to continue providing health care at the funding level they are providing it when the legislation is signed, a requirement known as "maintenance of effort." Obama is expected to sign the package today.

"The short version is that states are locked into their existing programs at the moment the president signs the bill," said Monica Coury, spokeswoman for the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System. AHCCCS operates the state's Medicaid program.

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