Final day to weigh in on changes to AHCCCS - Tucson News Now

Final day to weigh in on changes to AHCCCS

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Wednesday is the final day to weigh in on possible changes to Arizona’s Medicaid program.

Since the American Health Care Act was pulled, the Affordable Care Act is still implemented, which means the Medicaid program continues.

However, states can use the 1115 waiver to change Medicaid requirements on a state level.

Changes to Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, AHCCCS, include a five-year lifetime cap and a work requirement for able-bodied adults.

There are nearly 2 million using the program in Arizona and about 300,000 in Pima County. But some may not be on there much longer if the proposed changes are put into place.

One change would be a work requirement for able-bodied adults. That means if anyone mentally and physically capable of working must have a job, be looking for a job or in school.

Another proposed change is a five-year limit for those able-bodied adults.

Dr. Joe Gerald, associate professor of Public Health Policy and Management at the University of Arizona explained the changes could save Arizona tax payers some money. But he said since the federal governments funds much of the programs, the savings would not be too significant.

“The savings for Arizona taxpayers as incredibly limited for some of the type of proposals we are seeing,” he said. He believes one of the reason for the proposed changes is to hold people using AHCCCS accountable.

“The best way to view these changes is through the lenses of the value system,” he said. “The Republicans are working from the notion that people who received government benefits should have earned them. And they are very sensitive to the notion that individuals have to participate fully in society and by be taken advantage as the tax payer.” However, he added implementing these changes could have negative effects for the people who need insurance.

“For many of the individuals, they would be simply be uninsured,” said Dr. Gerald. “They wouldn’t earn enough to purchase health insurance through the marketplace and they would be working in jobs that provide health insurance. So that is one of the particular cruel parts of the five-year cap.”

This proposal has been rejected once already but now under the Trump administration lawmakers believe there is a better chance it will be approved.

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