Arizona has a proud history of defending freedom and protecting its citizens from the heavy hand of the federal government. In fact, when Obamacare was signed into law, Arizona was one of 26 states that challenged the law’s mandate that states vastly expand their Medicaid programs – at considerable cost to taxpayers.
But then the winds shifted in Phoenix, and Arizonans are paying a heavy price, as a new report from the Goldwater Institute shows.
Even though the Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that the federal government cannot force states to expand their Medicaid rolls to unprecedented levels, Gov. Jan Brewer inexplicably changed course and demanded that Arizona implement the new Medicaid program she had so successfully resisted.
Many legislators objected to such an expensive and risky expansion, especially because the plan lacked any taxpayer protections, such as a guarantee that when the federal government scaled back financial assistance, Arizonans would not be stuck picking up the tab.
The most common justification for Arizona’s Medicaid expansion was that it would reduce the “hidden healthcare tax,” where employers and employees supposedly pay higher health insurance premiums to cover hospitals’ uncompensated care charges and costs. But as the Goldwater Institute found, those cost-shifting claims didn’t materialize.
The lesson for the nation: Medicaid expansion in Arizona not only failed to deliver on its promise to alleviate cost-shifting to the privately insured, it allowed hospitals to increase prices on all payers—with no transparency or accountability to the taxpayers who are footing the bill for the program.
Read more in the Goldwater Institute’s report The Arizona Medicaid Expansion Experience: Beware the Peddlers of Cost-Shifting Claims.
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