Health Care Access in Arizona Hide Hagen Grand canyon university: HCI 255 February 1, 2015 Recently the Untied States top priority has been to provide accessible and affordable health care to every American. Those that lack access to coverage find it much more difficult to seek proper treatment and when they do they maybe left with astronomical medical bills.
The Commonwealth Fund found that one-third or thirty three percent of Americans forgo health care because of costs and one-fifth or twenty percent are thus left with medical bills that have problems being able to pay. The federal government, through the Affordable Care Act (201 0), has mandated that every person have health coverage in order to insure them proper access to medical care and preventive care. Each state is thus left to decide how they want to remove their own state’s barriers to access and provide coverage.
In Arizona, governor Jan Brewer has proposed to expand Medicaid and Sidecars, through some opposition, as a means to improve health care access. Historically Arizona was one of the last states to implement Medicaid back in 1982, which was seventeen years after then President Lyndon Johnson signed the program into law. Arizona only implemented the program because if they id not they faced the tax dollars that Arizona pay to the federal government going to other states to fund similar programs.
Since then they have made steady progress to insure many individuals. In 2000, Arizona voters passed Proposition 204 to expand Medicaid expansion to residents below a hundred percent of the poverty level and quickly after that Arizona made an agreement with the federal government through a waiver agreement for Arizona to receive federal matching funds to cover the Medicaid population of adults without children, which was a population that did not usually get funding (Roy, A. 2013).
During the recession, Medicaid spending rose drastically and Arizona faced a massive budget so they decided to stop reimbursing patients on Medicaid that received an organ transplant in order to save some money. After much criticism the funding was restored for transplant patients. They were also forced to freeze Medicaid eligibility for adults without children, those who were already on the program could stay but no new individuals would be approved for Medicaid. Medicaid went from 227,000 adults without children before the freeze to 86,000, which was a decrease of 141,000 (Roy, A. 013). The waiver agreement made years ago as set to expire in 201 3, so Arizona was faced with the decision to either opt out of the Medicaid expansion that would end coverage to those adults without children or expand Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act (AC) that would raise the federal poverty level to one hundred and thirty-three percent. Arizona governor went with the choice of expanding the Medicaid program. Governor Jan Brewer was elected into the Arizona office in 2009 and served until recently, ending her term in January 2015.
Brewer is a conservative Republican, who was among other Republicans that sued unsuccessfully to overthrow the health law by declaring it was unconstitutional and also was one that did not want to set up the health insurance exchange in Arizona (Cheney, K. 2013). She changed her Stance in regards to the AC and became determined to embrace it and the expansion of Medicaid that the AC would allow by vetoing any legislation that reaches her until the Republican legislation gives in (Cheney, K. 2013).
She justified her decision saying, “by slightly expanding eligibility for Arizona Medicaid program, Arizona will receive $7. 9 billion in federal funds over four years… This money will not only ensure hundreds of thousands of low-income Arizona, it will be an economic boon and help maintain the viability of rural safety-net hospitals feeling the pinch from growing costs of uncompensated care” (Roy, A. 2013). After all, it is money that taxpayers have paid to the federal government through the years and now can get it back through the expansion of Medicaid.
Governor Brewer also planned on taxing hospitals in order to receive funds for the program. Her reasoning in doing so is because Arizona already charges a two percent insurance premium tax and a provider tax on nursing homes (Roy, A. 2013). She also feels that by expanding Medicaid, hospitals will start to receive payment for services that would have otherwise not been paid for by those who are uninsured. For those adults with children that are not eligible for Medicaid but their income is not enough for private insurance, Sidecars was an option until it froze in January 201 0 due to a cost-cutting effort.
Sidecars is a state sponsored insurance program for low-income families that is part of the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Arizona is currently the only state that does not have a CHIP program which forces families that were n the program to partake in the health care exchange and pay for private insurance or forgo health coverage and be uninsured (Whitman, M. , 2014). The number of children covered at the time of the program freeze went from 45,000 to about 2,000, which was a ninety-five percent drop (Whitman, M. , 2014).
Governor Jan Brewer proposed to restore coverage to thousand of children through Sidecars II, where Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Mauricio Integrated Health System, and the University of Arizona Health Network would pull money together and receive extra federal funds. The federal funds hat the hospitals would receive would balance out the cost of the care that went unpaid for, thus millions would be able to go to the Sidecars program. Brewers proposal reinstated coverage to thousands of children but it was only temporary, a two-year expansion that ended in January of 2014.
Once the program ended, children were either left to get picked up by the expanded Medicaid program or get dropped from coverage and become uninsured or seek private, costly insurance. Since Arizona is the only state that does not have an active CHIP program, it is allowing the other states to e how important the program is for kids and what it does for families that are currently dealing with the freeze because federal funding for the CHIP program is set to expire in October of this year and it will surely spark a debate.
In conclusion, Governor Brewer was Once opposed to the Affordable Care Act and the expansion of Medicaid that was provided in the law but she fought hard against fellow opposing Republicans to expand Medicaid and extend Sidecars so that Arizona could have access to health care. Access to health coverage and preventive care is important and some may need a little help once in a while from their own state. Now, it will be left up to the newly elected governor, Doug Educed and fellow Republican, to decide how access to health care is handled in the state of Arizona.