Thursday, September 27, 2012

Hobbs: Reported rise in births paid for by the state ‘shouldn’t come as a surprise’ following years of Republican budget cuts to vital programs

Hobbs: Reported rise in births paid for by the state ‘shouldn’t come as a surprise’ following years of Republican budget cuts to vital programs

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – A recent article in The Arizona Republic called attention to the rising number of Arizona births paid for by the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state’s Medicaid program.

According to the article, tax dollars paid for 53 percent of births in Arizona in 2011, costing the state more than $200 million. That number is up from the 42 percent of births paid for by AHCCCS in 2000.

Rep. Katie Hobbs, D-Phoenix (District 15), said she is not surprised by the spike in the number of births AHCCCS is covering after years of Republican budgets that cut resources from vital programs. Hobbs said cutting money or capping programs like AHCCCS does not eliminate the need for these programs.

“This shouldn’t come as a surprise. The Republicans have been trying to grab headlines with their claims of a balanced budget. The reality is that they did that by slashing funding for vital programs. Many of those programs provided critical services to Arizonans, and the need for those programs does not go away just because the funding does,” Hobbs said. “This shows that Republicans at the Legislature don’t have a long-term economic plan for the state.”

The article indicates that the Republican-led Legislature cut $3 billion from programs and services in the past four years. The Joint Legislative Budget Committee reported that from 2008 through 2012 there were $3.3 billion in “permanent spending reductions” or budget cuts. Hobbs said she believes that the budget cuts are likely much higher. The estimate from the JLBC does not reflect the Republicans’ decision to underfund formula-driven programs, like those that provide money to schools to compensate for inflation. Nor does it include the funding sweeps that took money from services, like the raid on the Mortgage Settlement Fund. Earlier this year, Republicans swept $50 million from a fund that was set aside to help Arizona families struggling to recover from the foreclosure crisis.

“Short-sighted budgeting like this can have a domino effect. If we cut funding for child care subsidies, some parents can’t work. What is the impact of that on our economy? The Republicans underfunded KidsCare, signed off on education funding cuts, and instituted Medicaid enrollment restrictions and AHCCCS caps,” Hobbs said. “Often those are the kinds of programs that pay off in the long run. Reductions like that don’t happen in a vacuum. That’s why we need leadership committed to a sustainable and lasting economic plan for Arizona that will focus on improving education and creating jobs.”

To read the full article in The Arizona Republic, go to


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