Brewer seeks Medicaid flexibility

PHOENIX - Arizona's Jan Brewer is one of 33 governors who have signed a 13-page letter asking the federal government to give states more flexibility in managing their Medicaid programs.

The letter states that the provisions of the stimulus and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that mandate that states serve the same number of Medicaid patients or lose federal funding are too harsh.

"We ask for your immediate action to remove these (maintenance of effort) requirements so that states are once again granted the flexibility to control their program costs and make necessary budget decisions," the letter states.

Many of the states are facing budget challenges and the regulations in combination with the economy are creating the perfect storm.

"The effects of the federal regulations are unconscionable," according to the letter. The state's go on to say that they understand that the federal government is unable to give more funds to help cover the cost and again ask the federal government for flexibility to make the necessary adjustments to their Medicaid programs.

According to information provided in the letter, Arizona will spend more than $800 million on Medicaid this fiscal year. The state provides benefits at 100 percent of the federal poverty level.

Medicaid costs will make up 30 percent of the 2011 state general fund. The state will need a 15 percent increase in revenue to meet the need.