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Arizona First State to Ask for Medicaid Waiver

Arizona First State to Ask for Medicaid Waiver - Arizona is the "first state to officially ask the federal government's permission to eliminate Medicaid coverage for hundreds of thousands of low-income residents" from the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, reports the Arizona Republic.

Governor Jan Brewer wants to suspend the eligibility of 280,000 low-income adults, which would "scale back the state's coverage to near that of most other states and save $541.5 million," the report states.

According to the Washington Post, the move is widely regarded as a long shot.

But the paper notes that Arizona's spending on Medicaid has increased by 65 percent over the past four years, now accounting for 29 percent of the state budget compared with 17 percent in 2006.

Add to that - the extra federal Medicaid funding expires in June, contributing to an anticipated $1 billion shortfall for the state program in the 2012 fiscal year.

Despite the long odds Brewer said: "I am optimistic. . . . I am very optimistic that the federal government will step up."

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