Print Friendly and PDFPrinter Friendly Version

Thursday, January 17, 2013

“Weigh the evidence and do the math,” and say YES to Medicaid Expansion

Amy Traver

Staff Writer

In her State of the State address on Monday, Governor Brewer announced that Arizona will participate in the Medicaid expansion. Governor Brewer is now the third Republican governor to make the decision to expand health coverage through Medicaid. She reached the same conclusion as Governor Sandoval in Nevada and Governor Martinez in New Mexico: The Medicaid expansion is a good deal for their state.

Beginning in January 2014, states have an unprecedented opportunity to expand health coverage to their residents if they choose to expand Medicaid. If they choose to expand, virtually all of the costs will be paid for by the federal government, not the state. The federal government will pay for all the costs of the expanded coverage for the first three years (2014-2016) and will never pay less 90%.

By agreeing to expand Medicaid, these governors are strengthening safety-net hospitals, which will alleviate the burden of the increasing costs of uncompensated care for the uninsured. They are taking advantage of an economic stimulus—billions of federal dollars injected into their state economies that will boost local business activity, create thousands of jobs, and generate new state revenue. And, most importantly, these governors are providing hundreds of thousands of low-income Americans with the opportunity to get health coverage. 

Governor Brewer did say, however, that any expansion of Arizona’s Medicaid program will include a “circuit breaker” that automatically rolls backs eligibility if the generous federal reimbursement rates decrease. As the federal budget talks carry on, we must continue to fight to protect Medicaid and ensure the federal government does not go back on their commitment to expand health coverage. A federal dollar invested in the health of an American is a federal dollar well spent.

All in all, Governor Brewer’s message to her fellow Republican governors is clear: “Weigh the evidence and do the math. With the realities facing us, taking advantage of this federal assistance is the strategic way to reduce Medicaid pressure on the state budget. We can prevent health care expenses from eroding core services such as education and public safety, and improve Arizona’s ability to compete in the years ahead.”

To ensure we expand health coverage for our most vulnerable populations, we urge you to contact your state officials and ask them to follow Governor Brewer’s example.