Arizona Senate committee votes to drop Medicaid program

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An Arizona state Senate panel voted 8-5 in favor of bill that would cut the state's Medicaid program, which is known as the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) already has proposed dropping 250,000 existing beneficiaries from the program.

A proposed replacement program would cover up to 100,000 Arizonans, including the mentally ill and those needing long-term care. Dropping Medicaid would cost the state $7 billion in federal funding and would be detrimental to the entire state's healthcare system, opponents of the bill argue. They are worried that the cuts would close hospitals statewide, particularly in rural areas. Advocates of the plan say the only other option is “taxing Arizonans to death,” the Associated Press reported.

Tom Betlach, AHCCCS's program director warns that the bill is “not really a viable option.”