Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Al Melvin's Plan to End AHCCCS Would Devastate Economy, Destroy Jobs and Drive Away Doctors

Posted By on Wed, Feb 23, 2011 at 10:50 PM

AP reports that a ludicrous GOP plan to eliminate AHCCCS in Arizona—supported by Republican Sen. Al Melvin, who rules over the Catalina Foothills and Oro Valley—would cost the state $7 billion, cause unemployment to skyrocket and drive doctors from the state:

Arizona's economy would be devastated and roughly one in every five residents would be left without health care if the state ends its Medicaid program and loses $7 billion of federal funding, the state program's director said Wednesday.

Under a bill approved by a Senate committee, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System would be abolished to help close a state budget shortfall.

The bill would replace AHCCCS with a greatly reduced system that would serve only a small fraction of the 1.3 million people now enrolled.

If that happens, unemployment would skyrocket and the state's network of hospitals and other health care providers would be irreparably damaged, choking any growth of the state's economy, said AHCCCS Director Tom Betlach.

A state-only system couldn't even cover all of the 50,000 elderly and physically and development disabled people now enrolled, Betlach said.

"This bill does not even provide sufficient funding for our most frail citizens," he said. "How do we care for these citizens? Where would they go?"

Doctors and other care providers would flee the state as the level of uncompensated care becomes untenable, Betlach said.

Mr. Betlach, Al Melvin doesn't care about this state's most frail citizens. He just cares about tax cuts and ensuring that children are born, not that they're cared for once they're alive.

It's possible to have legitimate policy differences—say, as to whether the state should cut back the expansion of AHCCCS as a result of the Healthy Arizona proposition. But arguing that Arizona should dump Medicaid altogether is nothing short of lunacy masquerading as conservatism. And those who support it—we're looking your way, Al—reveals themselves to be utterly unserious ideologues who should be laughed out of office.

It's the shame of the state that, at a time when we need sober people to make smart decisions for the state, we have Russell Pearce and Al Melvin instead.

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