EVCCA: Restoration of Medicaid crucial to Arizona’s economy - East Valley Tribune: Columnists

EVCCA: Restoration of Medicaid crucial to Arizona’s economy

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Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 6:40 pm | Updated: 7:23 pm, Fri Mar 29, 2013.

The East Valley Chambers of Commerce Alliance (EVCCA) strongly supports Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s plan to restore our Medicaid population.

For far too long, Arizona businesses that want to offer competitive benefits have been forced to pay the “hidden healthcare tax,” high insurance premiums which occur as a result of the cost shifting necessary with uncompensated care. Under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), hospitals are required to stabilize any patient who walks through their doors regardless of their ability to pay. The costs of providing services to uninsured individuals are felt by all of us when our policies are up for renewal and premiums increase significantly.

On average, uncompensated care has more than doubled for hospitals statewide, creating a healthcare system that simply is unsustainable. Our hospitals currently account for almost 3 percent of all employment in the State and pay an average salary of $65,000. Hospitals also provide over $27.8 billion to Arizona’s economy. Arizona cannot afford to lose these jobs or the economic benefits they bring.

The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) is one of the most cost-effective Medicaid programs in the Nation and has been referred to by many as the gold standard. Restoring our childless adult population and allowing enrollment for those making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, would allow Arizona to draw down $2 billion in federal funds as provided for in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). This equates to approximately $10 for every $1 the State spends. At a time when every State wants to increase their economic competitiveness, Arizona cannot afford to pass on obtaining these funds.

We commend Gov. Brewer for putting together a plan to partner with the hospitals to generate the necessary State funds without burdening our budget. Gov. Brewer has also put the necessary protections in place to ensure that consumers won’t experience medical or rate increases due to Medicaid restoration and that Arizona will not be obligated to the restoration should the federal funding be altered in the future. The EVCCA urges our State lawmakers to support the Governor’s plan.

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