Phoenix, AZ – The state's Medicaid program, known as the Arizona Health Care
Cost Containment System, already provides free care to anyone
below the federal poverty level. That computes out to about
$18,300 a year for a family of three. One out of every six
residents already is enrolled. But Brewer said about 200,000
Arizonans who are eligible have not signed up. The governor said
the reason is that they are young and, for the moment, healthy.
(They're out there. And they feel they're immortal. So they don't
obviously worry about it. They end up in our emergency rooms. But
they never enroll.)
Her fear stems from provisions in federal proposals to require
everyone to have health insurance. She said if every one of those
200,000 who are AHCCCS eligible suddenly signs up, the state's
share of the cost could be $4 billion over the next five years.
Worse yet from her perspective would be if Medicaid eligibility
is expanded and even more Arizonans would end up in the program.
Brewer said she doesn't know whether national health care is the
solution to rising costs and the large number of uninsured.
(Certainly, it is a huge, complicated issue. My concern right now
is the federal government cannot push this down to the states.
They need to resolve this issue.)
For Arizona Public Radio this is Howard Fischer.