U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) this week filed three amendments to health care reform legislation being debated by the Senate that would address the concerns raised by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey and other leaders across the state about the bill's impact on Arizona's Medicaid system:
Repeal a provision that punishes Arizona for expanding Medicaid pre-Obamacare: In 2000, the people of Arizona passed an initiative (Proposition 204) that expanded Medicaid to all adults with income up to 100% of the federal poverty level. According to the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), current proposals to cut funding for early expansion states could cost Arizona between $356 and $480 million by fiscal year 2024. Senator McCain's amendment would ensure the people of Arizona are not be punished for opting to expand Medicaid before the Affordable Care Act was enacted.
Extend the phase-out of Medicaid expansion to 10 years: This amendment would extend the phase-out of Medicaid expansion to 10 years, ensuring states like Arizona have the time necessary to adjust their budgets. Under current proposals, the federal matching rate would be dramatically reduced, leaving states to pick up the tab without the time necessary to prepare. According to Governor Ducey, these current proposals, Arizona would not have the budget capacity needed to continue providing coverage to Medicaid recipients if federal matching funds to states are drastically reduced in such a short period of time.
Change the growth rate ("inflator") for Medicaid: Arizona operates one of the least-costly Medicaid programs in the country. However, under current proposals, changes in the growth rate for Medicaid would punish states like Arizona, which has spent decades reforming its Medicaid program by cutting costs and streamlining services. Senator McCain's amendment would correct this inequity by ensuring the growth rate for Medicaid is adequately adjusted for inflation.
"Arizona has been nationally recognized for running one of the most efficient and cost-effective Medicaid programs in the country," said Senator McCain. "Any reform to our health care system must reward states like Arizona that are responsibly managing their health care services and controlling costs -- not penalize them. My amendments would address the concerns raised by Governor Doug Ducey and other leaders across the state about the impact of current proposals on Arizona's Medicaid system, and ensure our citizens who are most in need do not have the rug pulled out from under them."