PHOENIX -- Arizona Governor Jan Brewer said Tuesday that the state of Arizona, which has been dealing with the highest per capita deficit in the nation, cannot afford the health care reform plan proposed by Senator Max Baucus of Montana.
"I am concerned that the proposals under consideration thus far do not consider the fiscal difficulties states are facing and are likely to continue over the next few years. I hoped your plan would appropriately address state concerns," Brewer wrote in a letter to Baucus, a Democrat.
Brewer points out that Arizona has been hit particularly hard by the current recession, and a recovery in Arizona is still in the horizon. Meanwhile, she says, the state's Medicaid costs continue to rise. She wrote:
At this time, one in five Arizonans is covered through the Medicaid program, and we expect Medicaid enrollment to remain at elevated and unsustainable levels through the near future. Arizona cannot afford our current Medicaid system.
The Baucus bill includes mandates for states to offer Medicaid eligibility to more people by setting higher income limits. Because Arizona already has income requirements that are set higher than other states, Arizona would not be eligible for a higher level of federal funding intended for states that haven't already raised income limits.
Brewer closes by imploring Baucus to reconsider unfunded mandates for state governments:
I want to reiterate my opposition to these unfunded mandates on states. I implore you to bear in mind the fiscal realities states are facing as we attempt to maintain responsible balanced budgets while preserving services for our most vulnerable residents.
Read the complete letter here.