State Capitol News
4:23 pm
Thu March 31, 2011

Brewer Submits Plan to Eliminate AHCCS

Phoenix, AZ – Brewer's proposal would say no more childless adults could sign up for the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System after July 1st. And enrollment also would be frozen for some parents. Those moves, coupled with other changes, are designed to save the state about a half million dollars this coming year. But attorney Tim Hogan said there's one problem: A 2000 initiative requires the state to provide care for everyone below the federal poverty level. And the Arizona Constitution generally forbids lawmakers from tinkering with voter-approved measures. Gubernatorial press aide Matt Benson said that measure is subject to -- quote -- available sources.

(Given that we've cut well over a billion dollars (in) last year's budget, more the year before, certainly well over a billion dollars in next year's budget, I think it's clear the state doesn't have the available sources to fund this program.)

Hogan said that's not true.

(They've just chosen to re-prioritize their funding obligations. They spend a billion dollars on prisons. They spend $3.5 billion on K-12. The principle here is you've got to fund your legal obligations first. And this is a legal obligation.)

Other elements of the governor's plan include requiring co-pays from AHCCCS recipients, penalizing those who use emergency rooms for routine treatment, and, for the childless adults still left in the program, fees for those who smoke, all changes which need federal approval. For Arizona Public Radio this is Howard Fischer.