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Health Care


During the 2013 session of the Arizona legislature, the issue of funding for the state’s Medicaid organization, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) was hotly debated. Led by Governor Brewer, proponents argued for accepting a 10-to-1 federal dollars match under the new Affordable Care Act (ACA) to expand AHCCCS to include individuals living up to 133% of the federal poverty level (FPL). 

The Greater Flagstaff Chamber chose to support accepting the federal match. In 2011, the state legislature chose to freeze off “childless adults” from being able to enroll in AHCCCS, causing over 141,000 individuals to lose health coverage. The reason was significant budget shortfalls in the state coffers. The outcome achieved its intended result by helping the state move out of debt, with the unintended consequence of causing Arizona’s hospitals to be significantly hampered by providing uncompensated care. To make up for this lack in compensation, hospitals were forced to pass the cost to insured individuals in what was known as a “hidden health care tax.” As a result, private health insurance premiums in Arizona increased by 8.8% ($361 per individual plan, $2,000 per family plan).

To help facilitate the conversation about the importance of expanding AHCCCS, we brought together a successful roundtable of community leaders and Flagstaff Medical Center administrators with our state legislators. 

When the legislature voted to accept the federal match, Arizona’s general fund was freed up to allow the state to pursue other funding priorities such as education and first responders funding. Medicaid was restored and hospitals are able to provide continuing, rather than costly, emergency-only care.

Next Steps:

Opponents of the restoration of AHCCCS are continuing their push in the state legislature to reverse the law that was passed last year. We will continue to support our states Medicaid system and oppose any legislation that seeks to overturn the 2013 law.

Legislative Watch:

House Bill 2234
Sponsor: Kwasman
Title: AHCCCS eligibility; hospital assessment; repeal
Status: PASSED - House Reform & Human Services Committee (5 AYES, 2 NAYS); Advances to House Appropriations Committee

Chamber Position: OPPOSE

Additional Material:

Chamber 2013 letter to the Legislature