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home : opinion : opinion April 30, 2016

4/21/2013 6:00:00 AM
State Column: State needs federal Medicaid partner

Jan Brewer
Arizona Governor

There has been no small amount of political drama these past two months as I've traveled the state advocating for my Medicaid Restoration Plan. Some media have chosen to focus on a perceived clash on this issue between myself and some members of my party. I get it.

But no one should lose sight of the real issues at stake here.

This debate is about saving Arizona lives, securing Arizona tax dollars and protecting Arizona hospitals.

When I talk about saving lives, I mean Arizonans like Justin Smith. The 37-year-old lost his job in 2010 during the Great Recession. Like so many others, he lost his health insurance along with it.

When he got sick early this year - developing necrotizing fasciitis, better known as flesh-eating bacteria - getting well wasn't the only thing on his mind. He knew the hospital bills would be staggering. Multiple surgeries and three weeks in the hospital later, Justin's hospital bills now exceed $200,000.

Those costs represent just a fraction of the expenses incurred to save his life. If you think the hospitals are simply absorbing these costs, think again. Much of it is passed along to Arizona families in the form of increasing health premiums - a "Hidden Health Care Tax" of nearly $2,000 per family, per year.

These costs are weighing down Arizona families and dragging down our economy. With my plan, we can finally begin to leverage federal assistance to pay the charges we're already racking up.

That's what "securing Arizona tax dollars" is all about.

Arizonans pay taxes. With my Medicaid Restoration Plan, we can make certain the taxes we pay are returned to our state and used to purchase cost-effective health care for our working poor. This federal funding amounts to nearly $2 billion in the first year and $8 billion over four years. Think about the jobs this will create.

With my plan, we can make certain our federal dollars are used to help Arizonans like Justin get the health care they need before they get sick in the first place. And before they show up in an emergency room (which is the costliest form of care).

Additionally, these dollars will throw a lifeline to rural hospitals like yours right here in Kingman.

Between 2011 and 2012, Kingman Regional Medical Center's costs for treating uninsured patients almost doubled, and now stand at nearly $11 million annually. That's 5 percent of the hospital's total yearly expenses.

On top of this, if my Medicaid Restoration Plan isn't adopted, Kingman Regional Medical Center will lose more than $10 million in annual reimbursements it currently receives for care given to a segment of Arizona Medicaid members. This is because our federal authorization to cover childless adults expires on Dec. 31.

To lose this funding at a time when uncompensated care expenses are already soaring would be a devastating body blow for rural hospitals like Kingman Regional.

It need not come to this.

With my Medicaid Restoration Plan, we can make certain the Arizona tax dollars we pay into the system are used right here in Arizona, rather than shipped to California, Illinois or any other "Medicaid expansion" state. We can protect our rural and safety-net hospitals that are critical health providers and pillars of the economy in places like Kingman.

Best of all, we can make sure more Arizonans receive basic, cost-effective care - keeping them out of the emergency room and reducing costs for all of us.

But we can only do this with your help. The Arizona Legislature is considering my Medicaid Restoration Plan. Let Sen. Kelli Ward (kward@azleg.gov), Rep. Sonny Borrelli (sborrelli@azleg.gov) and Rep. Doris Goodale (dgoodale@azleg.gov) hear from you.

This won't be an easy decision for them. Doing the right thing almost never is. But I know my plan is the right thing for Arizona, and for Kingman.

Related Stories:
• Column: AZ Medicaid expansion unsustainable

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

“Tea Party now, Tea Party tomorrow, Tea Party forever..”

The poorly and misnamed TEA Party is all but dead except in backwaters of our nation. And it is a shame to see the people who were duped by the rich into buying into this non-existent “party” continue to support such a majorly flawed and pathetic mess.

Posted: Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Article comment by: Tea Party

Yea, Zuca, Brewer is a sell out - we need to run our own candidates. Tea Party now, Tea Party tomorrow, Tea Party forever.

Posted: Monday, April 22, 2013
Article comment by: Luca Zanna

I'd rather to eat bread and onions and be a free man than be a well "fed" slave.

I do not listen to Rush or Faux propaganda news for your records.

Posted: Monday, April 22, 2013
Article comment by: The Fox Hound

To Luca Zanna because you probably get your information from Fox or Rush you just can't handle the truth. Arizona gets more money from the feds than we pay in. Plain Jane did the right thing by taking it .

Posted: Sunday, April 21, 2013
Article comment by: biker randy

I applaud you, Gov. Brewer, for doing the right thing for all Arizonans since it looks like we're stuck with Obamacare.

Like 'Consider' posted here, I too would like to see a price menu of costs for X treatment before it's done under my insurance coverage. If patience knew beforehand what recommended treatments cost they might change what they expect to have done. I sure would.

Posted: Sunday, April 21, 2013
Article comment by: Luca Zanna

The Federal government needs the State's Money... not the opposite.
Governor Brewer you are a sell out to the Obama regime and you are truly a phony republican. You can buy all the radio ads you want calling yourself a "conservative".... you are just a fraud.
Next election if you run again I'd rather vote for a coyote.
coming from a Republican
Gianluca Zanna

Posted: Sunday, April 21, 2013
Article comment by: Consider This

What would motivate hospitals to lower the ' "Hidden Health Care Tax" of nearly $2,000 per family, per year.' once there is a passage of a Medicaid Restoration plan?

I think the Governor's Medicaid Restoration Plan should not be all about the jobs it would create, but instead, be about some of the jobs it would create, and more about the increased amount of money that would be dedicated to medically diagnosing and treating eligible recipients and providing preventative services and outreach. "Cost effective" is the key statement here both in health plans and in medical/prescription charges. Also of importance is "medical accessibility". Is the appropriate type of doctor or diagnostic or treatment or prescription available where (local) and when a person needs it within a reasonable amount of time?
Are there other Medicare Restoration plans for Arizona that we can consider and compare to the Governor's plan?
Also, how about requiring medical servers provide us with a price menu? Seeing the cost beforehand of certain treatments, etc., will definitely discourage overuse of facilities.

Posted: Sunday, April 21, 2013
Article comment by: The Fox Hound

This from a women who had no plan until Obamacare gave the states a chunk of money for signing on to his plan. She just couldn't turn down the money and now all the sudden its her plan. Give me a break Plain Jane all the people she mentioned in her little story are republicans. Wake up Arizona and vote these fools out.

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