The Main Stream

May 15, 2013 8:02 PM by Lorraine Rivera

Medicaid expansion plan up for debate

TUCSON - Hundreds rallied on the front lawn of the Arizona Capitol Wednesday in support of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer's plan to expand Medicaid.

The state's health insurance program would cover an estimated 300,000 more people. Approximately 1.3 million are already enrolled in the Arizona Healthcare Containment Cost System.

Christina Jasberg is a schizophrenic who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression. She takes a handful of pills everyday and says it costs her approximately $1,000 a month. Jasberg says her Social Security disability payments don't cover the costs so she started purchasing generic medications from Canada, "that's what hit me so hard about losing AHCCCS is that a medication I truly need that's very expensive that I couldn't get."

Republican representative Ethan Orr said he is one of the few republicans that supports the bill but says it needs to be tweaked, "we need to be doing things to help people get off the system, co-pays , benefits counseling."

Orr said the plan would create a $1.5 million impact on the state budget every year. He said cost is what is dividing state legislators, "to me, the most fiscally conservative course of action is to make sure that we leave the state in better financial shape than what we found it."

But Governor Brewer says the plan wouldn't impact Arizona taxpayers, she said it would bring more money into the state under the federal healthcare plan. A portion of the plan would be covered by taxing hospitals.

For patients like Jasberg, approving the plan is critical, "but it could be someone that you love very much. But you don't have the funds anymore. What would you want for your loved one?

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