KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Gov. Brewer: Feds Say Arizona Can Cut Medicaid Rolls

In a letter to the governor, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote that a federal waiver is not necessary to proceed with the state's plan. Sebelius did not approve of the waiver request.

Bloomberg: Sebelius Lets Arizona Cut People From Medicaid Rolls, Governor Brewer Says
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer said U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has granted permission to cut people from the state's Medicaid rolls. Brewer, 66, has proposed eliminating 250,000 childless adults from the joint state-federal health care program for the poor to help save $541.5 million in the coming fiscal year. "Secretary Sebelius's letter clearly indicates that Arizona may take the steps it requires to manage its Medicaid program and balance its budget," Brewer said in a statement yesterday, referring to a document dated Feb. 15 (Palmeri, 2/16).

The Arizona Republic: Arizona Medicaid Cuts OK, Feds Say
Arizona doesn't need federal approval to eliminate 250,000 people from its Medicaid rolls in order to continue to receive federal matching dollars, health officials said Tuesday. Lawmakers had sought to eliminate coverage for low-income Arizonans to help close a huge budget shortfall, but recently passed federal health reform mandates that states maintain their level of coverage. In a letter to Brewer today, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the state's entire program comes up for federal reauthorization Sept. 30, and Arizona could simply choose to stop covering the childless adults who Gov. Jan Brewer and legislative Republicans are seeking to drop from the rolls (Reinhart, 2/16).

Politico Pro: HHS Will Let AZ Flex On Medicaid Back
Arizona does not need a maintenance of effort waiver to move forward with most of its requested changes to Medicaid, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote in a letter to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer late Tuesday. Sebelius did not approve their request, but did not stand in Arizona's way of making changes that would drop an estimated 250,000 enrollees from the state's Medicaid rolls. Some Arizonans in the program, such as children and the mentally ill, may still be eligible under other criteria (Kliff, 2/16).

Modern Healthcare: Sebelius Says She Lacks Authority To Grant Medicaid Waivers
For the first time, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said she lacked the statutory authority under federal law to approve waivers that would allow states to cut their Medicaid enrollments without losing federal matching funds - a so-called maintenance of effort provision. "Our lawyers say there is no blanket authority" to grant such waivers, Sebelius told reporters after her Tuesday appearance before the Senate Finance Committee to discuss President Barack Obama's proposed fiscal 2012 budget. "Maintenance of effort is part of the law" (Daly and Zigmond, 2/15).

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