Guest Column: GOP resolution on Ariz. Medicaid is misleading, ignores voter measures

2013-05-15T00:00:00Z Guest Column: GOP resolution on Ariz. Medicaid is misleading, ignores voter measuresPatricia V. Fleming Special To The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The Legislative District 14 GOP sent a resolution to members of the Arizona Legislature on May 2 titled "In Opposition to the Governor's Expansion of Medicaid (AHCCCS) in Support of Obamacare."

While expressing their opinion, the public, voting or otherwise, should be aware that there are many flaws in the LD14 GOP perspective.

The GOP resolution suggests that the voters "have expressed their will to reject (the ACA.)" The truth is that the amendment to the Arizona Constitution via Proposition 106 did not reject any portion of the Affordable Care Act. Furthermore, the voters have twice approved extending the Arizona Health Care Containment System (AHCCCS) coverage to childless adults with incomes at or below 100 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, with the first measure passing in 1996 and the second in 2000.

The GOP resolution suggests that expansion of AHCCCS is something Arizona cannot afford. The truth is that Arizona cannot afford to pass this up. It will represent cost savings for the state. The federal government will pay 100 percent of the costs for the first three years and then 90 percent thereafter.

The governor's proposal has a circuit breaker in it that protects the state. If the federal contribution drops below 80 percent, the law is null and void. Furthermore, without this expansion, the people of Arizona will continue to pay for the uncompensated care as is currently happening due to cost shifting by providers.

The GOP resolution suggests that the "assessment" on hospitals is in reality a tax. The truth is that the Provider Assessment, which is used by 44 states, is not a tax. The hospitals are voluntarily assessing themselves to provide matching funds they will recoup by not having to bear the uncompensated care burden currently created by uninsured Americans.

The GOP resolution suggests that Arizona should reject implementation of the ACA. While a state is free to accept or reject Medicaid expansion, our governor has courageously proposed extending coverage to indigents who are currently without health insurance. There are many insurance reforms in the ACA, e.g., closing the doughnut hole for seniors, removing the cap on coverage maximums, permitting children up to the age of 26 to be carried on their parents' insurance policy, removing the pre-existing condition barriers, preventing policies from being rescinded and requiring that an insurance company pay 80 percent of premiums in benefits.

Why anyone would want to terminate these benefits is beyond comprehension.

The GOP resolution suggests that what Gov. Jan Brewer considers a conservative model for Medicaid is, in fact, socialism. The truth is that the authors of this resolution have confused humanitarianism with socialism. AHCCCS is considered a model program for Medicaid coverage. It is the ninth-lowest-cost Medicaid program in the country. It protects the interests of Arizona taxpayers so they will not have to individually subsidize uncompensated care through cost shifting.

In resolving, affirming and declaring their opposition to the governor's plan to expand Medicaid, the authors, indeed, express opinions when they would do better to share the facts with legislators.

Patricia V. Fleming is the chairwoman of the Cochise County Democratic Committee and chairwoman of the Legislative District 14 Democratic Committee.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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