5/16/2013 2:18:00 PM Governor hosts another rally to expand Medicaid
Gov. Jan Brewer speaks at yet another rally she organized in hopes of convincing lawmakers will approve her plan to expand Medicaid. This one featured some people who depend on services and fear they will lose them at the end of the year. (Capitol Media Services photo by Howard Fischer)
PHOENIX -- With no legislative action to date, Gov. Jan Brewer is trying to ratchet up the pressure on Republican lawmakers to support her plan to expand Medicaid.
Brewer took her case to the steps of the House and Senate on Wednesday to let supporters tell their story. The latest rally, the fourth so far her office has organized, featured a doctor, a firefighter, a veteran and a hemophiliac.
That last person, Tempe resident Brent Davila, has a personal interest in what lawmakers do.
He is a single adult enrolled in Medicaid. And unless lawmakers approve the expansion Brewer wants -- or some alternative -- he will lose coverage at the end of the year.
Davila said he cannot afford that, saying a single dose of his medication costs nearly $3,400.
"All hemophiliacs are different,' he told those at the rally.
"Most do not need medication nearly as frequently as I do,' Davila continued. "However, people like me must perform an IV of this medication every 48 hours in order to avoid serious complications.'
Gary Figge, an emergency room doctor at Northwest Medical Center in Tucson, said he sees every day the problems of "cost shifting.'
That's when people need care but do not have insurance. The result is the hospital must make up the difference with higher charges to others.
Brewer proposes to take advantage of a provision in the Affordable Care Act that allows states to offer free care for those below 138 percent of the federal poverty level. The federal government will provide about $1.6 billion, with Brewer proposing the state's share of $250 million paid by what amounts to a tax on hospitals.
Most hospitals have been willing to go along under the presumption the change will lead to more people with insurance and therefore fewer people unable to pay their bills.
Arizona now provides coverage for those earning up to the federal poverty level, about $19,530 a year for a family of three.
But the problem for people like Davila is that if Arizona does not approve an expanded program, the federal government will not continue to provide its 2-1 match for childless adults. Brewer said without those dollars, coverage for them will disappear on Dec. 31.
That, however, may not be true.
The proposed state Senate budget requires the state to formally apply for continuation of those dollars, something the state has not done while Brewer pushes for an expanded program. And Senate President Andy Biggs said there's also the option for the state to pay the entire cost, using money in its "rainy day' fund.
House Speaker Andy Tobin has said he would support expansion of Medicaid. But Tobin wants not only some technical charges in the plan but a requirement for a public vote, something Brewer does not want.
At least part of the hostility to what Brewer wants is philosophical.
Some protestors at Wednesday's rally -- kept away from the event by the Department of Public Safety -- are opposed to the Affordable Care Act, referred to as Obamacare. They see the governor's plan as supporting that program.
Brewer pointed out that she joined with officials from other states to mount a legal challenge to the law.
"We lost. The president won. The Supreme Court upheld it,' the governor said. "Now we've got to do the best we can do for Arizona.'
Posted: Thursday, May 16, 2013
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Re: "But the problem for people like Davila is that if Arizona does not approve an expanded program, the federal government will not continue to provide its 2-1 match for childless adults. Brewer said without those dollars, coverage for them will disappear on Dec. 31." FACT: Childless adults are funded by tobacco taxes and Arizona's portion of the Tobacco Companies settlement. The federal guidelines do not require inclusion of childless adults at any economic level. Either Medicaid grants do not match these funds 2-1 for those childless adults enrolled now, or there will be grounds for a legal battle if federal officials try to withdraw current funding.
Re: " "We lost. The president won. The Supreme Court upheld it,' the governor said." FACT: The states challenging the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requirement that states expand Medicaid or lose current funding DID NOT LOSE. The Supreme Court struck that provision down in its entirety. It is totally unconstitutional for the federal government to blackmail states into following this kind of federal directive.