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Healthcare Advocates Give New Medicaid Rules Mixed Reviews

The federal government rejected key parts of Gov. Doug Ducey's Medicaid reforms, while leaving in place Health Savings Accounts for Arizona families. (dmarshall/iStockphoto)
The federal government rejected key parts of Gov. Doug Ducey's Medicaid reforms, while leaving in place Health Savings Accounts for Arizona families. (dmarshall/iStockphoto)
October 4, 2016

PHOENIX – Advocates for Arizona families are giving mixed reviews to a decision by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The federal agency has rejected key parts of Gov. Doug Ducey's requests to change the medical system for low-income families in Arizona.

The governor wanted the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (ACCESS) to stop providing non-emergency rides to doctor appointments, require enrollees to be actively looking for work, place a lifetime limit of five years on benefits, and introduce a health-care premium for people with incomes below the poverty line.

Samuel Richard is executive director of the Protecting Arizona's Family Coalition (PAFCO), which opposed most of the governor's plan.

"PAFCO and really, many in the health and human services community, are extremely happy that those provisions were not approved, because they would greatly affect the lives of individuals and families experiencing poverty," he said.

Initially, Gov. Ducey's plan had been sold as a money-saver and a path toward self-sufficiency. But Richard said it would have saved only $2 million out of the $1.5 billion ACCESS budget, and would create additional barriers to care.

Richard said he's glad the feds held the line on the proposed cuts.

"If these provisions went into effect, you would have families who were already struggling to make ends meet have another cost to add to their budget," he explained.

The feds did approve one part of Gov. Ducey's plan, a system of Health Savings Accounts.

Arizona's Medicaid waiver is set to be updated again in 2021.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - AZ