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Governor on right path when it comes to AHCCCS changes
Gov. Jan Brewer sent a clear message to fellow members of the Republican Party in Arizona in her State of the State speech – put the interests of the state above partisanship and political dogma.
She used the issue of medical care for the poorer residents of our state as the driving principle behind her plea, urging expansion of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS). Known as Medicaid nationally, the program has been tied up with controversy recently as part of the battle over the Affordable Care Act, which some call Obamacare.
The national health care law, which has been opposed in the past by the governor and other Republicans, has a provision to expand Medicaid by increasing eligibility for the program to those who are at 138 percent of the federal poverty level. In the past, states have only provided care for those at the poverty level or lower.
In return for doing this, the federal government will pay nearly all the extra cost initially, gradually scaling it back to 90 percent with states picking up the rest. Some states, including ours, have been withholding a decision on doing this because they philosophically oppose Obamacare or because they fear the federal government will not carry through on its promise to pay the cost.
Brewer says it is time to end the standoff and accept the reality of the Affordable Care Act. She also said there will be great benefits for the state in expanding AHCCCS, including injecting $2 billion into our economy, saving and creating thousands of jobs and providing needed health care for the less fortunate in our state.
It also helps protect Arizona's hospitals who now provide care for the poor and must either absorb some of the cost of doing so or pass the costs on to those who can pay for their care or through higher insurance premiums. This particularly impacts rural hospitals like Yuma Regional Medical Center.
The poor deserve proper health care, not only because it is the proper and humane thing to do, but because in the end it benefits all of us as taxpayers, insurance rate payers and members of the greater community to help provide it.
The governor has “seen the light” on expanding AHCCCS under the national health care system. We hope she can help Republicans in the State Legislature to do the same.