A messier messy mess

Posted: February 16, 2011 in Gov. Jan Brewer, Healthcare, Lord of the Flies, The Economy

U.S. Health and Human Services responded to Gov. Jan Brewer’s request to drop poor childless adults from the state’s medicaid program.  The Gov. asked the question because the latest HCR law passed in 2010 required that state’s maintain their level of coverage.  Essentially they told the Governor that the state could simply stop covering them because the state is coming up for re-authorization on Sept 30th and the state is not required to maintain services above and beyond Medicaid.  Evidently the services provided to this population of childless adults was “above and beyond” what Medicaid normally provides.  State voters approved this kind of coverage for this population via a ballot initiative Prop. 204 in 2000.

From a political perspective this may have a positive affect for the Democratic Party.  The Gov. and state Republican legislators having been bitching and moaning that the Obama Administration was standing in their way, preventing them from doing what was necessary to balance the budget.  That no longer appears to be true (if it ever was, as I suspect it was not) and the onus now shifts back to the state to get on with the business of managing itself.

However, on several fronts this is bad news.  First, it means that the Gov. will proceed with plans to cut necessary Medicaid services that could affect as many as 300,000 people.  Second, such a move will most certainly cause opponents to file lawsuits, which will have to join a growing line of angry plaintiff’s suing the state of Arizona for a myriad of recent laws and actions.  The state is already has a deficit and defending against all of these lawsuits is only making it worse.  Third, the Gov. would be directly defying the will of the voters by simply not complying with Prop. 204 and I don’t know what the law has to say about this in Arizona.  Fourth, the situation is a lot more complicated than it appears and the savings the Gov. expects may not come to pass.  AZ didn’t receive “blanket” permission to cut services to 300,000–many of them cannot be cut off entirely and will have to be shifted to other umbrellas within Medicaid and the state will still have to be responsible for the costs of services…so there is nothing clear about the savings to be found.

So far, it just looks like a messy mess getting messier and too little money saved.  There were and are easier ways to balance the state budget.  The problem is the Gov. and the state GOP won’t even consider them because of ideological blinders.

PS:  I was too sick to post yesterday but am back fighting the good fight today.






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