Arizona Legislators Propose to Terminate AHCCCS

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Senate Bill 1519 was passed out of the Appropriations Committee by Arizona legislators Wednesday night. SB 1519 would repeal all Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (“AHCCCS”) coverage for individuals in Arizona. It is estimated that this would end health insurance coverage for nearly 1.8 million Arizona residents. Under the Bill, Arizona would essentially withdraw from the federal Medicaid program and would forfeit nearly 8 billion dollars in funds from the federal government.

As with any Bill, the Arizona Senate and House must approve it and the Governor must sign it before it becomes a law. There is virtually no chance of that happening with this proposed Bill, however, the mere introduction of it should scare any health care provider in the state. All health care providers that participate in federally funded health care programs would be financially crippled by this proposed law.

This would hit rural health care providers disproportionately hard. Rural health care providers have a much higher patient population on AHCCCS than other providers. In fact, I would guess that some rural hospitals have AHCCCS payer populations of up to 50%. Can you imagine if 50% of a health care providers payers were suddenly without health insurance? It is safe to say those health care providers would be unable to exist without the federal Medicaid payments.

I understand that this Bill is meant to simply elicit a response because the current health care model used throughout the country is not sustainable; however, threatening to pull out of the federal Medicaid program should scare anyone involved in health care.

I have quickly found that Arizona is a state of extreme political views, but this proposed Bill would financially devastate health care providers throughout the state in a way that would be difficult to recover from.

If you have a question about AHCCCS contact Arizona Attorney Robert Chelle.

Arizona Seeks Waiver to Suspend Medicaid (AHCCCS) Coverage

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Today Arizona legislators will consider whether to authorize a request for a federal waiver allowing the state to temporarily suspend coverage of nearly 280,000 people enrolled in Arizona’s version of Medicaid (Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System).

Regardless of whether the federal government will actually grant the waiver, it interesting to see the effect this will have on our state’s emergency departments.  Numerous studies over the past ten years have shown that the uninsured use  emergency departments at a lesser frequency than those on Medicaid.  This is so because those eligible for Medicaid are generally the poor, the disabled and the elderly (three segments of the population that have a much higher rate of chronic disease than other population segments).  Logically, the chronically sick use the ED more frequently because they tend to need immediate medical attention more so than other segments of the population.

If Arizona becomes the first state to be granted a waiver that allows them to suspend Medicaid coverage below 2010 levels it seems likely that the majority of those individuals will continue to be uninsured until the coverage is reinstated.  Thus, Arizona may be the first state to suspend Medicaid coverage on a huge scale and dump a chronically ill population directly into an uninsured health care population.  Rest assured it will impact Arizona hospital bottom lines negatively because of the increase in self-pay (uninsured) patients.  It is impossible to anticipate where health care coverage is headed, but it certainly will be interesting to watch and it seems we may be on the front lines here in Arizona.

If you have a question about changes to the AHCCCS contact Arizona Attorney Robert Chelle