Gov. Brewer: Arizona Needs Medicaid Flexibility

Tuesday, 01 Mar 2011 07:51 AM

By Hiram Reisner

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Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer says she is pleased President Barack Obama in his speech before the National Governors Association offered states the ability to opt out of Obamacare, if they offer as much coverage as his national law and don’t increase the deficit, but she is concerned about flexibility on Medicaid, so her state can balance its budget.

brewer, arizona, medicaid“We are concerned about flexibility on the Medicaid side, which he hasn't offered anything up,” Brewer Monday told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren. “We are looking forward to making proposals at least from Arizona this next week and hopeful that he will … give us some flexibility so we can balance our budget and deliver the services that we can afford. It is all about money.

“If we reduce those people off our Medicaid rolls if they are going to have problems, they are going to end up at our hospitals. We have [legislation] currently in Arizona … to separate ourselves from the Medicaid program totally,” she said. “If that would happen, that would mean we would lose about $3 billion in federal dollars.

“So what we're trying to attempt to do and trying to get flexibility … we can get some flexibility to have some different kind of options so we can mitigate the damage,” Brewer continued. “For instance, we could request not to have to pay for taxi rides for the population to make their appointments, maybe possibly ask for co-pays, that we have to have flexibility. Medicaid in the state of Arizona is one-third of my budget because we have such a generous program.”

Van Susteren asked whether Obama understands problems particular to Arizona. Brewer said she hopes he does, as does Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, with whom she met Monday to discuss Arizona’s status.

“Our program is different than most other states, because it is access, it's a capitated program,” Brewer said. “I think Secretary Sebelius understands it because she has been a governor. If we don't have the money, we don't have the money. What are we going to do?”

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