In Arizona, Medicaid No More?


In Arizona, a Republican state senator has introduced a bill to end the state's participation in Medicaid, according to a local ABC affiliate:

One Arizona GOP state senator has come up with a novel way to trim state spending on health.  He wants to scrap the state's Medicaid program, and replace it with a much smaller one.

Early Wednesday in Phoenix, the Senate Appropriations Committee agreed with him.  It approved a measure that would dismantle the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, or AHCCCS.

State Senator Andy Biggs of Gilbert sponsored the measure.  The Associated Press reports that his bill would replace AHCCCS—which serves about 1.3 million people—with something much smaller, that would serve primarily the seriously mentally ill, and low-income residents who need long term care.

…Biggs argues the system is unsustainable, and said the state needs a true safety net system, not a socialized one. He told KGUN 9, "As we continue to draw down federal money, it's no longer real money because the federal level is broke. What it is is we are using bonds and IOU's that the future generation is going to have to pay for us to provide health care today for Arizonans."

As the Arizona Republic recently reported, Arizona has been hit worst by recent increases in Medicaid costs. In 2007, Medicaid used up only 17 percent of the state's budget. But these days, spending on the program comprises roughly 30 percent of the total budget—and that's accounting for $873 million in federal and state cuts that have already been made.

Now, as with similar recent talk of a Medicaid withdrawal in Florida, this measure doesn't seem all that likely to pass. But after years of ill-advised expansion and escalation, some state legislators seem to finally be catching on to the program's serious flaws.

More on Medicaid and the states here.