Arizona High Court Won't Stop Medicaid Cuts or Rule on Enrollment Freeze

The Arizona Supreme Court has not taken action to stop proposed state Medicaid cuts, expected to take effect this week, or rule on the constitutionality of a proposed enrollment freeze for the program, according to an Arizona Republic news report.

State lawmakers recently passed legislation that would reduce spending in the state's Medicaid program, also known as Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System. The proposed plan, which would save the state an estimated $500 million, includes a provision that would freeze enrollment for individuals who earn more than 75 percent of the federal poverty level, according to the news report. Other proposed changes include shortening re-enrollment deadlines from one year to every six months.

According to the news report, the state's proposal is expected to be approved by federal health officials. Patients with serious mental illness, HIV/AIDS and young adults on the verge of "aging out" of the program are exempted from the enrollment freeze. However, the homeless, mentally ill and those who frequently move or change employment are at highest risk of losing coverage.

Several public interest law firms filed a petition with the Supreme Court in May, urging justices to halt the new enrollment standards. They argued the rules violate Proposition 204, which prohibits lawmakers from taking such measures. However, the governor's attorney says a reference to availability of funds in Prop 204 allows the state to make cuts in AHCCC. Now that the high court has rejected the petition, the public interest law firms are working to file a case in a lower level Maricopa County Superior Court to stop the enrollment freeze.

Although the public interest groups took the unusual route of seeking an injunction at the highest level of the law, the Supreme Court justices' denial allows opponents to seek an injunction at a lower level court, according to the news report.

Read the Arizona Republic news report about the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System.

Related Articles on Medicaid Reform:
Loophole in Health Reform Law Would Open Medicaid to Millions of Middle-Class People
Washington State Seeks Federal Approval of Medicaid Exemptions
Florida Governor Signs Medicaid Overhaul, Shifts Program to Managed Care

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