Arizona: Where Healthcare and Immigration Intersect

Tom Sullivan | Government Health IT | February 28, 2012

...last year the state legislature reduced the budget for the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment Systems (AHCCCS) by $500 million, which subsequently meant foregoing nearly $1 billion in Medicaid matches, such that the total hit was $1.5 billion, according to Plese.

And then there are "the 204 people" – as in Proposition 204. That essentially cuts childless adults who previously qualified for Medicaid. “I just got the numbers today," says Plese. Since July, when it was frozen, we’ve seen 90,764 people lose their coverage. We’re at risk of losing 250,000 people who now have coverage.” What’s more, some 128,000 kids are currently on a waiting list to get insurance, since the Kids Care program was frozen last year.

All of which is causing a serious deterioration of the healthcare system in Arizona and putting the burden on health centers that – despite having what Plese describes as “very sophisticated health IT, EHRs and in some instances ePrescribing” – are challenged by several funding reductions amid the onslaught of residents being dropped from Medicaid. “There’s nowhere for these people to go,” says Plese. “Our community health centers can only take so many patients who don’t pay.” Indeed, the community health centers performed $72 million in uncompensated care last year...