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.

NEXT: The Truth About Obama's 2012 Budget

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  1. One can only hope that Texas is next. Come on Texas!

    Who’s with me?


  2. I can only hope that Texas is next. COME ON TEXAS!

    Who’s with me!?

  3. I can only hope that Texas is next. COME ON TEXAS!

    Who’s with me!?

    1. As a fellow Texan, I’m with you!

  4. DYING IN THE STREETS!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. They can’t die in the streets if there are no roads!!!

  5. I’ve been thinking every state should just stop cooperating with the federal government on unconstitutional things. What are the Feds going to do? Challenge them in court and risk losing?

    1. Pull an Andrew Jackson and threaten to invade the state and hang the “traitors”?

      1. Pull an Abraham Lincoln and actually invade the state and hang the “traitors”?

  6. I thought Holly Hunter was a brunette.

  7. That’s genius, because you’ll evict medicaid recipients to other states and they probably draw lots of government spending. Its why the cities surrounding Berkeley and Santa Monica have so few bums, they like all the free food, housing and care provided by those cities.

  8. The geriatric tea-bagger meltdown would be fun to watch, especially in a state like Arizona.


  9. Opting out of Medicaid would make sense if you could also opt out of paying federal Medicaid taxes.

    Doing one without the other just means the citizenry gets to pay a monster transfer payment to other states.

    1. Agreed.

      On the lighter side, I remember watching Raising Arizona about twenty years ago, I laughed until I cried–especially the part where he’s riding around after the robbery looking for the diapers. Still makes me chuckle.

    2. On the other hand, you don’t completely destroy your state budget, which is what the governors and state legislators ought be properly focused on.

    3. What we really, really need is a bunch of states to jointly and simultaneously make the threat.

      Leadership on this would probably have to come from the Rs. Let’s see, the R-gov R-leg states are . . . Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Maine.

      So. How long would Medicaid survive as a thirty-state system?

    4. It could just be playing hardball to force more funding at the federal level.

      But it would be interesting to watch the resentment build up if several states opt out and get sick of paying for other states’ socialist systems.

  10. Turn to the right!

    By far my favorite Coen brothers film.

  11. The most interesting part is the meme, “a true safety net system, not a socialized one”. It’s not a new idea, but I’ve never heard a Republican politician phrase it quite that way. Predicting you’ll hear it popping up in more and more talking points.

  12. Since legislators in Arizona propose forfeiting $7 billion in federal spending on Medicaid and reduce state spending on AHCCCS from $3 billion to about $1.8 billion, one has to wonder what they expect to happen to the poor who can’t pay for healthcare? Will they stop getting sick? Not go to hospitals? Or, more likely, seek all their medical care in emergency rooms, further exacerbating the state’s physician shortage and increasing the wait times at emergency rooms. The ones who will truly pay the price are those who have insurance and will end up paying even more as the hospitals that stay open push off the losses on those who can pay.

  13. Arizona stands to lose 10 billion for doing this. Seven billion in federal dollars, 3.5 billion in the lost wages from hospitals and clinics that will close when they lose federal dollars. Two-thirds of the people in nursing homes are on Medicaid. In rural counties up to 50% of patients are on medicaid. Counties will die off, who can live there if there is no local hospital, clinics or doctors? The rural hospitals and clinics depend on federal dollars.

  14. Arizona also gets a sizable chunk of money from the winter visitors, people that only live in the state from November to April. They are often referred to as “snowbirds”. They are typically retired people that RV. They come to Arizona, and they use the rural hospitals and clinics and the health care resources. If doctors and hospitals close, a large portion of the population for the rural counties will leave.

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