Monday, December 28, 2009

States Fight Health Care Reform (Again)

We posted in September on the growing movement in the states to oppose federal health care reform, writing that Arizona seemed to be leading the way.

Now Arizona and a handful of other states are fighting a second round against federal health care reform, according to the New York Times.

Here's the problem: The health care reform legislation that passed the Senate last week would expand coverage in large part by expanding Medicaid.  But some states, including Arizona, have already taken steps to expand Medicaid coverage.  Under the legislation they'll have to pay more than other states who have not expanded coverage.  In short, the states that have already expanded coverage will subsidize those that have not.

Medicaid coverage by states varies widely.  For example, according to the NYT, Arkansas provides Medicaid coverage for working parents who earn only up to 17 percent of the federal poverty level, while Minnesota covers working parents who earn up to 215 percent of the federal poverty level.

Arizona citizens voted to expand Medicaid coverage in 2000.  As a result, the state estimates that in the first seven years of the Senate bill its share of the costs would be $17 billion.  If the state didn't expand coverage, its share would be merely $1.4 billion.


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