TUCSON – Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) reacted to approval by Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for the continued operation of Arizona’s Medicaid program with changes. CMS denied several changes requested by the state, including lifetime limits on coverage, work requirements, new cost-sharing for those below 100% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) and six month lock-out periods. However, they permitted the state to move forward with a proposal known as the AHCCCS Choice Accountability Responsibility Engagement (CARE), which will set up health accounts and impose additional cost-sharing on those between 100-138% of FPL with potential dis-enrollment for lack of payment.
“I am thankful for CMS’s leadership in preventing some extremely harmful changes to our Medicaid program, however allowing low income individuals who can’t afford additional payments to be disenrolled could have severe consequences,” Rep. Grijalva said. “The benefits of expanding Medicaid are clear – to reverse course and go back down a road that will erode the program is a disservice to the people of Arizona. Medicaid dollars should go to care, they shouldn’t be wasted on operation of CARE accounts or unnecessary enrollment burdens.”
“The state’s insistence on pushing policies that punish low income individuals only serves to endorse failed economic theories. I call on Arizona to work with CMS to ensure punitive new financial requirements don’t lead to mass disenrollment of our expansion population,” Rep. Grijalva said.
Congressman Grijalva has been a leading voice calling for CMS to reject many of the proposed changes to the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) program. In October 2015, he urged CMS to reject Arizona’s new Medicaid waiver request on grounds that the state did not adequately fulfill its obligation to allow for meaningful public input, the full text of the letter is available here. In December 2015, he led Arizona lawmakers in submitting formal comments urging the rejection of harmful changes, the full text of the comments are available here.