Arizona seeks waiver to cut 280K from Medicaid rolls

Confronting a $1.1 billion budget shortfall, the Arizona Legislature has given the go-ahead to apply for a federal waiver to drop 280,000 residents from the Medicaid rolls, reports Healthcare Finance News.

If approved, the waiver would save Arizona about $540 million per year, but would also drastically reduce the Grand Canyon State's opportunity to receive federal matching funds.

Altogether, the waiver proposal would reduce Arizona's Medicaid rolls by about 20 percent. Those dropped would include all non-pregnant and non-disabled childless adults, along with all parents whose incomes exceeded 50 percent of the federal poverty level, notes the Associated Press. Under the 2010 guidelines, the cutoff would be a household income of $9,150 for a family of three.

Lawmakers contend that such cuts would only put the state's smallest and most remote hospitals at risk of losing funds.

"It's time for some accountability here at the state capitol and a good government, a government that is transparent and a responsive, efficient government," said Rep. Lynne Pancrazi, D-Yuma. "This waiver only puts our rural hospitals at risk in an area where we barely have enough doctors and floods our emergency rooms with the uninsured."

Should the waiver be approved, Arizona would lose about $1 billion in federal matching funds.

For more:
- read the Healthcare Finance News article
- check out the Associated Press article
- read the CMS poverty guidelines