Questions To Remember In Arizona’S Medicaid Restoration

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by David Mitchell, AARP Arizona state director

It shouldn’t be hard to forget why so many worked so hard to see that Arizona’s Medicaid program, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), was restored.

After all, the historic legislation that was recently signed into law by Governor Brewer means that now more than 300,000 struggling Arizonans can get the health care coverage they need.

This hard-fought legislation received bipartisan support from the state Legislature, and was endorsed personally by the governor, yet there are efforts to try and undo what has been done to help so many.

Medicaid opponents are at work collecting signatures for a ballot initiative to overturn all the good that has been accomplished. Even though, we as a state, we voters, have twice already approved at the ballot box, AHCCCS coverage for vulnerable and struggling fellow Arizonans.

If once again faced with this issue, voters will likely be asking these important questions:

• Why shouldn’t we, as a state, want to see that previously uninsured Arizonans get access to health care?

• Why shouldn’t we, as a state, want to make sure our hospitals, especially those in rural areas, remain open?

• Why shouldn’t we, as a state, want to reduce uncompensated health care, the cost of which hurts all of us as taxpayers?

Recent surveys have shown that Arizona voters support Medicaid restoration. Recent polling finds that we, as a state, don’t want to see this coverage taken away from so many that need it.

Restoring AHCCCS, when it comes down to it, is about people. Hundreds of thousands of fellow Arizonans are being helped by this legislation. Our rural hospitals will remain open, protecting jobs and our state’s economy. Overcrowded emergency rooms will be eased.

Restoring AHCCCS is a win-win for all of us.

Yes, it was indeed historic legislation that was passed by our Legislature and signed by our governor. But we, as a state, as voters, may be called upon again to reaffirm the governor and the Legislature’s action, as well as reaffirm our own belief that this law was a good work done for hundreds of thousands of struggling Arizonans.

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