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US renews scaled-back Arizona Medicaid program

The federal government is reauthorizing Arizona’s newly scaled-back Medicaid program for another five years.

The reauthorization awarded Friday accepts cost-cutting changes to the programs, including enrollment freezes and new copayment requirements that federal officials either previously accepted or indicated that they would.

Some other changes proposed by the state either were scaled back or rejected outright, such as a now-scrubbed $50 annual fee for smokers.

The current Arizona budget required Gov. Jan Brewer’s administration to reduce state spending on the Medicaid program by approximately $500 million to help close a $1.1 billion shortfall.

One major portion of the state’s plan is an additional cut in payment rates for hospitals and other providers to save a projected $190 million in the current fiscal year. Federal officials say they’re considering that separately.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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