WASHINGTON— Today, Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva, Ruben Gallego, Tom O’Halleran, and Ann Kirkpatrick sent a letter to Governor Doug Ducey expressing their concern that thousands of Arizonans will lose their health coverage under a recently approved section 1115 Medicaid waiver that includes work requirements for beneficiaries. The letter further implored the Governor’s Office to provide more information on how the state will handle the new administrative burden of implementation and the potential implications of the 1115 waiver on providers and beneficiaries. The letter read in part:
“Arizona’s red tape requirement as approved by CMS is very similar to Arkansas: both have a monthly work threshold of 80-hours, same affected population (adults age 19 to 49), and similar exemptions. This leads us to believe that Arizona’s experience will be as bad or even worse than that in Arkansas. As such, we strongly recommend that you follow MACPAC’s recommendation to pause on implementing a requirement that will inevitably lead to coverage losses, challenges in accessing affordable health care, poor health outcomes, and greater financial hardship for both beneficiaries and providers.
“As in Arkansas, many Arizonans who will likely lose coverage will be working people who either can’t meet the 80-hour requirement due to factors outside their control or cannot meet arduous paperwork and documentation requirements, particularly Arizonans in communities with limited access to broadband. They work in industries like retail, home health, and construction where hours fluctuate from month to month and flexibility is limited, so that any illness, family emergency, or disruption in child care or transportation can cost them their jobs. In addition, people with disabilities or serious illnesses may lose coverage because they do not meet the standards to qualify for exemptions, don’t know they qualify, or have a hard time providing the necessary documentation. Red tape and paperwork requirements reduce enrollment in Medicaid, studies show, and people with mental illness or serious physical limitations may have particular difficulty overcoming these barriers.
“Arizona has made critical strides in recent years as a result of bipartisan efforts at the federal and state level when it comes to the opioid epidemic and veteran homelessness issues that have strong links to access to affordable coverage and treatment. As you know, Medicaid is the largest payer of substance abuse disorder treatment. We are gravely concerned that these new bureaucratic barriers will reverse critical progress on opioid treatment in vulnerable communities across our state, while risking coverage for some veterans who gained access post-expansion. Recent bipartisan Congressional efforts to expand long-term substance abuse disorder provider capacity in Medicaid in states with high overdose rates (like Arizona) are undermined by these bureaucratic barriers.”
Click here to read the full text of the letter.
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