Monday, March 14, 2016

News about AZ health care (or its absence): Medicaid lawsuit and KidsCare bill

Medicaid lawsuit

State lawmakers are waging a battle in court to kick 350,000 of their constituents off health insurance.

Or may be they are trying to terminate insurance for other lawmakers' constituents. Either way, if the GOPlins win their lawsuit, 350K Arizonans are in trouble. Howard Fischer reports in today's Daily Star.

The lead attorney for the state’s Medicaid program wants the Court of Appeals to reject a claim by some legislators that the levy funding its expansion was illegally enacted.

The issue about whether the levy is a tax is more than an academic dispute. If the lawmakers win the case, potentially 350,000 people would lose their state-provided health insurance.

Here is the background.

At the heart of the fight is the 2013 decision by then-Gov. Jan Brewer to take advantage of the Affordable Care Act. It has the federal government pick up most of the costs for expanding health-care coverage for up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, which is about $27,700 a year for a family of three. Before the expansion, the program covered only those below the poverty line, or less than $21,000 for the same size family.

But to get those funds, the state first had to restore coverage for childless adults, which had been dropped years earlier in a budget-saving maneuver. To cover that cost and other state expenses, Brewer proposed — and lawmakers approved — giving Betlach authority to impose a charge on hospitals.

The plan was adopted by a simple majority of the House and Senate, with the Republican governor cobbling together a coalition of Democrats and some members of her own party to vote for it.

Hospitals did not object because Betlach set up the levy so that every hospital chain would actually make money from the deal: More patients with government-provided insurance coverage means fewer bills written off as bad debt because of a person’s inability to pay. He even structured it so some hospitals that would not benefit from Medicaid expansion would owe nothing.

But the lawmakers who voted against expansion sued, contending the levy is a tax illegally enacted because it lacked the two-thirds margin required by the 1992 voter-approved constitutional amendment.

A trial judge disagreed, with the case now at the Court of Appeals.

So the heartless Republican SOBs are perfectly happy to spend your dime on a lawsuit trying to disenfranchise thousands of citizens. And their Plan B? As usual, the GOPlins act like a character from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome:
Max: So, what's the plan?
Pigkiller: [laughing] PLAN? There ain't no plan!

Children's health insurance (KidsCare)

Here is a related gem from yesterday's Daily Star. State Senate President Andy Biggs is OK with sick kids.

One man is standing in the way of helping roughly 30,000 low-income Arizona children have access to much-needed medical care — State Senate President Andy Biggs.

Legislation that would allow Arizona to receive funding for KidsCare, which is the state’s version of the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program [CHIP], has already passed out of the Arizona House. Biggs must assign the legislation to a Senate committee before the end of the week — Friday, March 18 — or it will be dead.

Biggs, a Republican from Gilbert, has said he’s not going to assign it to a committee. “I don’t support KidsCare,” he told the Arizona Republic. He is using his power not only to deny thousands of children regular access to medical care, but to prevent the crucial issue from even getting a committee hearing in the Senate.

An Arizona Republic news story points out that Biggs is one of 25 Arizona senators who receive health insurance paid for by state taxpayers.

Get that? Biggs gets health insurance on your dime but he doesn't support children's health insurance. You can never ever accuse Biggs of being Bigg-hearted. Oh, the hypocrisy of that man. He gets my nomination for SOB-in-chief.

Biggs should not be allowed to single-handedly shut out low-income Arizona kids who should be able to go to the doctor when they’re sick.

Contact Sen. Andy Biggs: Share your thoughts about insurance for low-income kids by calling Senate President Andy Biggs at (602) 926-4371.

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