FLAGSTAFF, Ariz., April 2 -- Coconino County issued the following news:
The Coconino County Board of Supervisors today passed a resolution supporting Governor Jan Brewer's efforts to expand the statewide Medicaid program, leveraging federal dollars to grant health insurance to hundreds of thousands of Arizona residents.
"Nearly 20 percent of Coconino County residents fall at or below the poverty level," said County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Liz Archuleta. "In an era with skyrocketing healthcare costs, many of our residents and children cannot afford basic healthcare. We applaud Governor Brewer's efforts to expand Medicare in an attempt to provide crucial healthcare services for our most vulnerable residents and families."
Federal law boosts funding for states that increase Medicaid eligibility to anyone earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level or just under $15,000 a year. According to US Census figures, between 2007 and 2011, 19.8 percent of the County's 136,000 residents were living below poverty levels.
In 1996 and 2000, voters statewide overwhelmingly supported an initiative to provide health insurance coverage through the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System known as AHCCCS. The approval relieved county governments of their role in serving as the safety net for the medically indigent, which was not a sustainable cost for counties.
In 2011 the state froze enrollment into AHCCCS, which led to increased county costs and public safety concerns such as increases in court-ordered treatment and use of the jail system as a means of addressing those needing behavioral health treatment but unable to access care.
"Governor Brewer's plan truly is the best approach that has been offered that honors the will of the voters, while also providing much needed financial relief to counties," Supervisor Archuleta said.
The expansion of Medicaid through AHCCCS was made a priority of Governor Brewers during her State of the State Address in January and is currently being debated at the State Legislature.
TNS C-paypan56 130403-mv45-4276341