Republican Lawmakers Push For Medicaid Restrictions

February 07, 2014

Republican lawmakers who were unable to block expansion of Arizona’s Medicaid system last year are trying a new approach.

They want to impose restrictions on who can get care, and how long that care should last. Under the bill approved in 2013, the amount a person can earn and still get free health care was raised. But a house committee wants to require state officials to seek federal permission to require able-bodied Medicaid recipients to be employed or looking for work. The measure would also impose a lifetime ban on care for anybody who can work. 

Speaker of the House Andy Tobin says the limit is justified.

“My fear is that we are putting people into situations where they never have to leave the home and have their welfare checks show up even though they're able-bodied, have their health care covered even though they're able-bodied, and not go out and work when they're able,” Tobin said.

Under the measure the five-year limit even affects low-wage earners. The panel also voted to repeal the Medicaid expansion, a move that is largely meaningless since there are not enough votes in the full House for approval, or to override a virtually certain veto from Gov. Jan Brewer.