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Healthcare group nixes plans for AHCCCS ballot measure

The state’s largest hospital association has nixed plans for a ballot measure that would provide money for the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System by raising income taxes on the wealthiest residents.

The Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association on April 6 announced that it would not file the ballot measure, which was to be known as the Arizona Family Healthcare Act, even though the group had filed a campaign committee with the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office several days earlier.

“The Association will continue to work collaboratively with the Legislature and Governor Brewer to explore solutions to the current challenges associated with funding the state’s share of expenditures for AHCCCS healthcare programs,” association president and CEO John Rivers said in a press release.

The ballot measure would have called for a 1 percent income tax increase on individuals who earn more than $150,000, and couples who earn more than $300,000.

Without the ballot measure, the state must find a new way to replace $385 million in funding for the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System that was cut from the fiscal 2011 budget. The federal health care bill passed by Congress in March prohibits the state from cutting Medicaid funding, and Arizona must maintain its current eligibility standards and coverage for AHCCCS or risk about $7 billion a year in federal health care funding.

The cuts, which would essentially roll back coverage that was expanded by voters under Proposition 204 in 2000, was expected to kick about 310,000 people off AHCCCS.

The state must also restore funding for KidsCare, Arizona’s arm of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides health care for about 38,000 children. Arizona was slated to save about $20 million a year by eliminating KidsCare, but the federal health care law forces the state to maintain that program as well.

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