Gov. Jan Brewer rolls out her Medicaid (AHCCCS) Restoration Plan


Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

On Tuesday, Governor Jan Brewer rolled out her long anticipated Medicaid (AHCCCS) Restoration Plan. Brewer unveils legislation to broaden Medicaid eligibility:

Gov. Jan Brewer unveiled draft legislation Tuesday
detailing her plans for expanding Medicaid, while putting a human face
on the contentious issue in hopes of convincing skeptical GOP lawmakers
whose votes she needs to get it approved.

During a rally at the state Capitol designed to kick-start
legislative debate over the governor’s proposal to broaden eligibility
under federal health-care reform, Brewer said expansion would bring in
billions of federal dollars and save the lives of people who would
otherwise be without health coverage.

“I’ve always been proud to be a member of a pro-life
party. With this legislation, we’re talking about people’s lives,” the
governor said. “I refuse to stand by and let this many people needlessly
suffer, especially when we have a solution.”

Video below the fold.

Read: Draft Legislation to Restore Arizona's Medicaid Program (.pdf)

In a press release from the Governor's office, Governor Jan Brewer Unveils Draft Legislation to Restore Arizona’s Medicaid Program (.pdf), Governor Jan Brewer unveiled draft legislation for her Medicaid Restoration Plan:

This thoughtful, conservative plan will stimulate the Arizona economy, protect rural and safety-net hospitals and provide quality, cost-effective health care to Arizona’s working poor.“

As public officials, it is our duty to uphold the best interests of our state and the citizens we serve,” said Governor Brewer. “I urge legislators to take a step back and reflect upon the real, human impact of refusing to pass this critical legislation.

“It’s simple. If we do not restore AHCCCS, hundreds of thousands of Arizonans will continue to lack health coverage, and nearly 60,000 more stand to lose coverage on January 1, 2014. There is no Plan B. I thank Representative Carter for her leadership
on this important issue, and I stand ready and willing to work with her legislative colleagues to get this done for the people of Arizona.”

Passage of Governor Brewer’s Medicaid Restoration Plan will:

  • Inject more than $8 billion into the Arizona economy over the next four years;
  • Preserve safety-net and rural hospitals that have been pushed to the brink by overwhelming costs associated with providing uncompensated care;
  • Keep Arizona tax dollars in Arizona and;
  • Take pressure off our strained State budget.

“AHCCCS works because it leverages the private sector and employs private sector principles. AHCCCS members have their choice of health plans and doctors, and are treated in the same medical facilities used by all Arizonans,” said state Rep. Heather Carter, R-District 15. “We do not have a ‘government’ health care program. What we do have is 30 years of evidence to show Arizona has found a better and more cost-effective way to serve the health care needs of our most vulnerable citizens. With the passage of this legislation, we can get it right once again.”

The Arizona Republic continues…

[Governor Brewer] had the backing of six Republican lawmakers and patients,
who joined the usual set of supporters that include doctors, health-care
administrators and business leaders.

The event focused the debate sharply toward the human
impact of Medicaid expansion, which in Arizona would provide health
coverage to an additional 400,000 people by fiscal 2015. Without
expansion, Brewer said, more than 50,000 Arizonans will be dropped when a
federal waiver expires Dec.31.

In unveiling a draft of the measure, supporters of the
plan to expand the state-federal health-insurance program for the poor
and people with disabilities said it would answer those who say they
can’t decide whether to support the proposal because they haven’t seen a

* * *

House Health Committee Chairwoman Heather Carter, R-Cave
Creek, was among six GOP lawmakers to stand with Brewer at the event.
The others were Reps. Kate Brophy McGee of Phoenix, Paul Boyer of
Phoenix and Douglas Coleman of Apache Junction, and Sens. Steve Pierce
of Prescott and Bob Worsley of Mesa.

“I’m still trying to get my arms around how precisely this
will work,” Carter said. “But I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and help
you get this done.”

Carter, who will help shepherd the bill through the House, said the draft legislation “is the starting point.”

The measure, expected to be officially drafted as a budget bill in coming weeks, includes no real surprises but all the elements Brewer has outlined:

It increases eligibility for the Arizona Health Care Cost
Containment System, the state’s Medicaid program, to cover everyone
earning less than 133percent of the federal poverty level, or just less
than $15,000 a year.

It provides a “circuit breaker” that rolls back coverage
for those between 100percent and 133percent of the poverty level if
federal funding falls below 80percent of the expansion cost.

It gives AHCCCS authority to “establish, administer and
collect” a hospital assessment that will raise an estimated $256million
to pay for the state’s share of expansion, with about $100million left
over for the general fund.

The draft includes a few clauses that could give GOP
lawmakers some cover with constituents and party loyalists who oppose
Medicaid expansion on principle.

They include:

Requiring AHCCCS to look for ways to get patients to pick
up some of the costs through copayments or other fees. Federal health
officials and federal courts have thwarted most previous efforts,
however, including mandatory co-pays.

Requiring a legislative committee to review the methodology for determining how hospitals are assessed.

An opportunity for public comment on the provider tax.

* * *

“This is where the rubber hits the road,” said lobbyist
and former GOP lawmaker Chris Herstam, who represents Banner Health and
Tucson Medical Center. “The bill is very basic, easy to understand and
is a testimonial to Governor Brewer’s political courage for making sure
that Arizona gets its fair share of federal funds.”

A powerful pro-expansion coalition includes business
leaders, the health-care industry and non-profit organizations, along
with some of the state’s top lobbyists and political strategists. Along
with Brewer, they argue that turning away billions in federal Medicaid
funding would increase human suffering and further cripple hospitals and
other health-care providers caring for the uninsured.

In addition, they say state officials are legally bound to
at least restore coverage to childless adults who live below the
poverty line because voters have twice approved ballot measures to do
so. Brewer and lawmakers put a cap on the childless-adult program in
2011 to help balance the budget, and about 150,000 people have since
lost health coverage.

Opposition to the governor's plan comes from the usual suspects, the billionaire bastard "Kochtopus"-funded: Americans For Prosperity, Goldwater Institute, and Tea Party. As I have said before, how long are Arizonans going to tolerate the corrupt web of "Kochtopus"-funded front groups in the state of Maricopa to dictate public policy in this state? It is time to tear the "Kochtopus" up by its roots and to salt the ground to make sure that it never grows back in Arizona again.