Three Democratic U.S. representatives from Arizona recently urged Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell to decline changes to the state’s Medicaid program listed in its 1115 Medicaid renewal waiver.
U.S. Reps. Raul Grijalva, Ruben Gallego and Ann Kirkpatrick joined forces to criticize changes that might potentially hurt poorer citizens and submitted a joint statement to Burwell during a public comment period in December.
“We ask that you carefully review and reject any provisions that limit access, reduce coverage, penalize low-income Arizonans, act as a barrier to care or cause individuals to lose their coverage,” the representatives said.
Grijalva disapproved of putting Arizonans at risk, citing fallout witnessed during previous state administrations’ handling of Medicaid issues.
Gallego concurred, stressing that the proposed changes would negatively impact hundreds of thousands of needy Arizonans and create obstacles to acquiring Medicaid benefits.
“Arizona’s proposed Medicaid changes would be a huge step backwards,” Kirkpatrick said. “Medicaid is a lifeline for … low-income Arizonans, and this proposal is a direct threat to their coverage and access to health care services.”
In their statement, the three lawmakers said that over half a million individuals could be affected, encountering barriers and possibly losing insurance benefits altogether. Additionally, they said, the proposal violates objectives of the Medicaid Act and Section 1115 of the Social Security Act because federal law permits a waiver only to enable projects found to promote Medicaid objectives.
“Arizona has already experienced first-hand the impacts of harmful Medicaid cuts, which resulted in massive loss of coverage, a spike in uncompensated costs to hospitals, economic consequences that reverberated throughout the state economy and job loss in the health sector and beyond,” the lawmakers said.