Expanded Medicaid (AHCCCS) is the best option

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

The centrist Grand Canyon Institute think tank released a new report last week on the exanded Medicaid (AHCCCS) provisions of "ObamaCare." Press release from the grandcanyoninstitute.org:

Medicaid Expansion: General Fund Saves $1.2 Billion with 21,000 Jobs Created

The Grand Canyon Institute has released a comprehensive evaluation of the options that Governor Jan Brewer has regarding Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act in light of the recent Supreme Court decision National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius.

The Study recommends expanding Medicaid coverage to 133 percent of the federal poverty line. By qualifying for higher federal matching funds, that expansion authorized under the Affordable Care Act over the first four years of implementation would save the state’s general fund $1.2 billion over complying with the 2000 citizen initiative “Healthy Arizona” which raised Medicaid eligibility to 100 percent of the federal poverty line.

The report’s author, Dave Wells, the Grand Canyon Institute’s Research Director noted, “by increasing Medicaid coverage to 133 percent of the federal poverty line, the state would reap huge economic benefits. Compared to current policy, it would add 21,000 jobs created compared to 15,000 jobs created by following 100 percent of the Federal Poverty line.  The 21,000 jobs would reduce the state’s unemployment rate by 0.7 percent, and increase economic growth in the state during the first year of full implementation by nearly 1 percent.”

The study’s baseline for job creation was current policy which froze enrollment for the last few year of adults without children under 18 and was done during the state’s budget crisis. Continuing that enrollment freeze would cost the state less than the 133 percent Medicaid expansion, but leads to no added job growth and would continue leaving thousands of childless adults unable to obtain health insurance.

Susan Gerard, a Grand Canyon Institute Board member and former Director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, cautioned “The economic downturn and rise in the uninsured has already put great strain on hospital finances from patients who need services, but are unable to pay. Regardless of whether Arizona expands Medicaid eligibility, the Affordable Care Act reduces federal monies that help pay for uncompensated care, so from a health and economic standpoint the current policy in the state is inadequate.”

George Cunningham, chair of the Grand Canyon Institute, explained, “ The payback on the state investment in expanding Medicaid to 133 percent of the federal poverty line is 5 to 1, more than $5 come into Arizona from the Federal government for every dollar Arizona expends.  You can’t beat that return on investment.”

Governor Jan Brewer is reviewing options and has said she would announce her recommendation in January. Arizona’s Medicaid system goes by the acronym AHCCCS for Arizona Heath Care Cost Containment System.

The full study can be found here.

Over the weekend, this op-ed appeared in The Arizona Republic(an). Expansion of AHCCCS is Arizona's best option:

On Monday, the Obama administration announced that Arizona must expand its Medicaid program, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, to everyone who is below 138 percent of the federal poverty level to be eligible for the increased federal match provided for in the Affordable Care Act. Unfortunately, this move places Arizona's health-care system and the vulnerable people AHCCCS serves on the critical list.

The remedy is quite simple: Arizona should agree to expand AHCCCS coverage and embrace a creative state revenue strategy to capture the increased federal match. State policymakers and leaders from the health-care and business communities should collaborate on innovative solutions that will reduce pressure on the state general fund and ensure our growing state has sufficient resources to meet our citizens' needs. The entire agreement should sunset in 2016, unless the federal government becomes more reasonable.

To do otherwise would jeopardize care for our most vulnerable patients, those for whom Arizona voters have twice demanded health-care coverage.

* * *

Those who would reject the expansion because of financial concerns are missing the real costs of those without health-care coverage.

If the state budget doesn't cover those in need (with a large contribution from the federal government), it is still a burden on Arizona taxpayers. The simple fact is that those in need turn up in emergency rooms when their treatable problems have gone from bad to worse, and health-care consumers cover the bill through increased premiums. The average family's annual insurance premium is $1,700 higher to cover the costs the uninsured incur. Everyone pays.

Instead of arguing that Arizona should do nothing so as not to contribute to the nation's deficit [Looking at you Cap'n Al Melvin], conservatives should be preaching the gospel of market competition that AHCCCS has epitomized for 30 years. Conservatives should encourage the states with dramatically higher Medicaid costs to follow our lead — contain costs, increase quality and provide choice in health care.

Our elected officials face some tough decisions ahead. No doubt the state budget is under stress, especially when it comes to education and health care. A solution to health-care funding is within our grasp. We look forward to working with Gov. Jan Brewer, lawmakers and leaders within the health-care and business communities on a strategy that builds on AHCCCS' success and preserves precious resources needed to meet budget priorities.

Together, we can design a funding model that honors the will of the voters, protects Arizona taxpayers and secures access to affordable health care for our citizens.

Column signatories

Robert Meyer, president and CEO, Phoenix Children's Hospital

Betsey Bayless, president and CEO, Maricopa Integrated Health System

Karen Mlawsky, CEO, University of Arizona Health Network

James Stover, CEO, University of Arizona Health Network Health Plans

Emily Jenkins, president and CEO, The Arizona Council of Human Service Providers

Kote Chundu, president and CEO, District Medical Group

Neal Cash, president and CEO, Community Partnership of Southern Arizona

Laurie Liles, president and CEO, Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association

Judy Rich, president and CEO, Tucson Medical Center

Dr. Mick Pattinson, CEO, Northern Arizona Regional Behavioral Health Authority

Dr. Dennis Lund, executive vice president, Phoenix Children's Medical Group

Comments are closed.