WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) released the following statement as the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) held a public meeting today in Tucson about placing a work requirement and a lifetime limit on enrollees who are “able-bodied” to work. The meeting stems from the passage of Arizona Senate Bill 1092 in 2015, which called for dramatic changes that could impact hundreds of thousands of people in Arizona currently enrolled in AHCCCS. A representative for Rep. Grijalva attended this morning’s meeting and read the following statement to the room.
I am thankful for CMS’s leadership in preventing some extremely harmful changes to our Medicaid program and for allowing public input; however I share the concern that the far reaching changes sought by the state will have lasting impacts on our constituents.
In Congressional District 3 alone, which I represent, over 220,000 individuals receive medical care under Medicaid which represents 29% of the total population. Needless to say, to reverse course and go back down a road of eroding the program is a disservice to the people of Arizona.
Of most concern are the changes to parts of the Choice, Accountability, Responsibility, Engagement (CARE) program. Among some changes, it would lock beneficiaries from 100-138% FPL out of coverage for six months for nonpayment of premiums and co-payments. Failure to make payments for beneficiaries below poverty would not result in a lock out but would be counted as a debt to the State.
Senior citizens would be harmed by the lifetime limit on medical care. And the ambiguity in defining “able-bodied” individuals will impose requirements on people who may be ill and unable to work, yet don’t qualify for disability or those who must forgo work to care for a disabled loved one. Those are only some of the concerns that I share.
I will continue to call for CMS to reject many of the proposed changes to medical care for low income individuals and families. Arizonans deserve to have their voices properly heard at the state level prior to moving forward with this process.
Congressman Grijalva has been a leading voice calling for CMS to reject many of the proposed changes to the Arizona Health Cost Containment System. 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. In December 2015, he led Arizona lawmakers in submitting formal comments urging the rejection of harmful changes.