Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a bill that would have sought federal permission to limit people to no more than five years in Arizona’s Medicaid program, saying “this waiver would have brought our healthcare sector to a breaking point.”
“Estimates show the five-year lifetime enrollment limit could have meant disenrolling up to 212,664 adults, or almost half of the AHCCCS adult membership. An additional 253,571 children would lose coverage as soon as they reached their 18th birthday, as the bill makes to exception for enrollment during childhood when determining the five-year limit,” she wrote in her veto letter.
HB2367, which was sponsored by House Speaker Andy Tobin, would have required the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System to apply to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for a waiver allowing the state to impose a lifetime five-year limit on “able-bodied” adults. It also would have required AHCCCS to seek a waiver allowing work requirements and “meaningful” copayments to deter to non-emergency use of ambulances and emergency rooms.
The five-year limit included several exemptions, including for pregnant women, high school students who are at least 18 years old, sole caregivers for a relatives who are younger than five years old, or people who are receiving disability benefits.
Under the terms of its agreement with the federal government, AHCCCS could not impose those restrictions without CMS approval. CMS has historically rejected such requests.
According to legislative analysts, there are nearly 141,000 able-bodied adults who would lose coverage if CMS granted the waiver sought by HB2367.
Tobin, R-Paulden, could not immediately be reached for comment.