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Arizona Medicaid cuts take effect Friday

Arizona's generous Medicaid program will become significantly less generous this Friday, when the state will begin denying health insurance coverage to childless adults, Capitol Media Services reports. An estimated 100,000 residents will be affected in the first year alone.

Republican Gov.  Jan Brewer has been seeking federal approval for the policy change for months as she makes deep cuts to the state budget. While Arizona can change many aspects of its Medicaid program on its own, changing who can qualify for coverage has has been a far tougher task, given strict eligibility rules under the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, a joint state-federal health insurance program for the poor.

With federal approval now in place, Arizona will start turning aside childless adults who are below the federal poverty line of about $18,500 a year for a family of three. Arizona has been providing health insurance coverage to those residents for a decade under a ballot measure approved by the voters in 2000, but Brewer has argued that the state can no longer afford such a sweeping Medicaid program. She expects the change to save taxpayers $190 million and shrink health care rolls by 100,000 in the first year.

The change will not strip health insurance coverage from childless adults already receiving it, Capitol Media Services noted. New applicants, however, will be turned aside.

Stateline is a nonpartisan, nonprofit news service of the Pew Charitable Trusts that provides daily reporting and analysis on trends in state policy.

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