State Capitol News
5:25 pm
Tue March 9, 2010

Hospital weigh whether to raise taxes for AHCCCS

Phoenix, AZ – The budget plan being debated this week would knock more than
300,000 people off the rolls of the Arizona Health Care Cost
Containment System, the state's Medicaid program. That's about
one out of every four people now in the program. Gov. Jan Brewer
and Republican legislative leaders say the state can no longer
afford the 2004 voter mandated expansion. Laurie Liles, lobbyist
for the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association, said she
agrees the state doesn't have the money to pay for the 1.3
million people now enrolled.

(So we do think that we need a long-term solution. And that will
likely involve some type of dedicated funding stream.)

Put simply, that means asking for higher taxes in November. But
what makes her think voters will approve it -- especially if they
might just have approved a one-cent sales tax hike in May?

(I believe the voters do not support cutting AHCCCS. And I
believe the voters will agree to support some type of tax
increase to preserve AHCCCS.)

The hospitals do have a financial interest in the issue: Fewer
people with government insurance means more people turning up at
their door with emergencies -- people who federal law prevents
them from turning away even if they can't pay. For Arizona Public
Radio this is Howard Fischer.