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Monthly premiums on the way for some on Medicaid in Arizona

The federal government has approved some of Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s Medicaid reforms.

“This is specific to the adult population that’s between 100 and 133 percent of poverty,” said Monica Coury, Intergovernmental Relations director at AHCCCS, which is Arizona’s version of Medicaid.

That means about 80,000 Arizona citizens will have to pay 2 percent of their annual income or $25 a month, whichever is lesser. Members will be disenrolled for failure to pay their monthly premium requirements.

“This is money that goes into the members account for services that we currently don’t cover in the access program,” Coury said.

That includes dental, vision, chiropractic care, recognized weight loss programs, nutrition counseling, gym membership and sunscreen.

“The design is to help increase health literacy,” Coury said.

Critics say they’re just happy the government didn’t approve all of Gov. Ducey’s reforms.

“We are extremely pleased that the federal government continued to protect access to care,” said Sam Richard, executive director of Protecting Arizona’s Family Coalition.

“By denying imposed lifetime limits, the governor also wanted to mandate work requirements,” Richard said.

He said for those on Medicaid, $25 is a decision between health care and viable necessities, such as rent or utilities.

“This package of reforms was sold as ‘responsibility’ and taking personal care for health care decisions,” Richard said.

While that sounds great, he said poverty is complex.

“People experiencing poverty are dealing with an enormous menu of struggles and we should be opening doors and creating even more access to health care, not adding barriers to the process.”

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