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Pima Dems back Brewer's AHCCCS expansion

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Pima Dems back Brewer's AHCCCS expansion

Recently the Pima County Republican Party went on record opposing the expansion of Medicaid coverage for Arizonans in need. Not surprisingly, that letter was light on facts and heavy on misinformation and scare tactics.

Pima County Democrats applaud Governor Brewer's decision to support the expanded Medicaid provisions of the Affordable Care Act. As the governor finally acknowledged, the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land and "Now, our dtate's elected leaders have a duty to do what's best for Arizona."

Sadly, the YOYO (you're on your own) Republicans continue to turn away from Arizonans in need and remain the "Party of No." The Democratic Party says Yes to investing in Arizona and moving forward with a fiscally responsible, morally just plan that expands coverage for low-income, hard-working Arizonans, brings billions in federal funds to the state and creates much needed jobs.

Arizonans enacted Proposition 204 in 2000 which mandated coverage of childless couples up to 100 percent of the poverty level. That proposition also required the Legislature to supplement tobacco-settlement money to cover additional costs from "available sources," but the Legislature opted to freeze enrollment in AHCCCS instead.

The subsequent loss of AHCCCS coverage for thousands of hard-working, low wage Arizonans has more than doubled the cost of uncompensated hospital care, according to the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association. The expanded Medicaid provisions would restore eligibility to those persons frozen out of coverage and expand coverage to 133 percent of the poverty level.

Rejecting the expanded Medicaid provisions, however, would cost the state of Arizona substantial federal funding over the next several years and continue to reduce the number of Arizonans eligible for AHCCCS coverage.

According to the bipartisan Grand Canyon Institute, Arizona's investment in the expansion of the AHCCCS program would require about $1.5 billion. In return, the state would receive nearly $8 billion in new federal dollars. By qualifying for higher federal matching funds, the expansion would save the state's general fund $1.2 billion over the first four years of implementation as compared to the current mandate. In addition, the report notes that nearly 435,000 adults would gain access to health care coverage, over 21,000 new jobs would be created, and economic growth in Arizona would increase by nearly 1 percentage point.

As employers continue to drop health care benefits for employees and private insurance companies raise premiums far beyond the reach of middle-class family budgets, the opponents of Medicaid expansion fail to understand that the private insurance market is essentially closed to low income workers and those with pre-existing conditions. Low and middle income families need jobs and need access to healthcare. Medicaid expansion is a common sense solution for Arizona.

The Pima County Democratic Party encourages everyone who care about jobs and healthcare access for all Arizonans to contact your state legislators and tell them that you support expanded Medicaid coverage in Arizona.

Jorgensen is the chair of the Pima County Democratic Party.

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