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Arizona seeks Medicaid coverage extension

(AP Photo/Joey Ivansco)

Arizona is asking the federal government to continue its Medicaid program for childless adults.

State budget deficits led state lawmakers to cap enrollment in the childless-adult program in July 2011, and more than 100,000 have lost health coverage since then.

The Arizona Republic reports  that state Medicaid officials hope to convince the federal government that Arizona deserves additional funding to insure that group of low-income adults.

The goal is to prevent thousands of Arizonans from getting kicked out of the state’s Medicaid program and to give Arizona policy makers additional incentive to expand government-paid insurance under federal health care overhaul.

Gov. Jan Brewer has been meeting with stakeholders and appears to favor restoration of the childless-adult program, which would allow it to again cover those whose earnings are below the federal poverty level.

But the state’s share of federal funding under that scenario is unclear. It’s muddled by the fact that Arizona is one of just six states that extended coverage to childless adults and the only state with a freeze on the program.

In its proposal to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services last month, the state’s Medicaid program said it will be unable to insure any childless adults if the program is allowed to expire on Dec. 31, 2013.

But even if the coverage is extended, operators of the state program said Arizona stands to lose more than $1.5 billion in the first four years of Medicaid expansion if it doesn’t receive a 90 percent match rate from the federal government to cover an additional 150,000 childless adults.

The current match is about $2 for every $1 in state spending. The state’s share of the Medicaid expansion could impact whether legislators agree to expand the state’s Medicaid program.

Arizona voters in 2000 approved expanding Medicaid coverage to everyone whose earnings are below the federal poverty level.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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