Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer on Tuesday asked the federal government for a waiver that would allow Arizona to suspend Medicaid coverage for 280,000 low-income people because of the state's budget crisis.
Ariz. letter to HHS seeks Medicaid waiver
Brewer cited costs from broader eligibility for Arizona's Medicaid program when compared with other states and recurring shortfalls in the state budget due to the recession's hit on tax revenue. "We need relief," Brewer told reporters. "I'm very optimistic that the federal government will step up."
Brewer submitted the request to federal HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a four-page letter and a 19-page formal proposal. Brewer requested and received authorization from the Legislature last week to request the waiver, which is a key portion of her proposed state budget.
The waiver would excuse the state from a coverage mandate included in the federal health care overhaul enacted last year. The overhaul requires states to continue Medicaid eligibility at early 2010 levels until Medicaid is expanded in 2014.
Arizona is one of six states that covers childless adults in their Medicaid programs, and it covers parents at a higher rate than most other states, Brewer's letter stated.
Arizona's spending on Medicaid now accounts for 29% of the state's general fund, up from 17% in 2007, mainly due to the recession making more people eligible.
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