A few weeks ago I wrote about the portion of the proposed FY 2012 budget that would suspend for 2 years AHCCCS (Medicaid) eligibility for adults without children (called childless adults). As I mentioned in the earlier post, that kind of change would need to be approved by then federal government. Last week, the Secretary of HHS sent the Governor a letter that outlines steps Arizona could take to manage its Medicaid program and balance its budget without violating requirement, including taking action to not new coverage for childless adults beginning October 1, 2011. Here’s Secretary Sebelius’ Letter to Governor Brewer 2/15/11. The letter from the Secretary doesn’t mean that the rollback is certain because a number of other things would need to happen first including resolving potential legal issues.
We currently provide behavioral health services to about 5,200 persons with serious mental illnesses that are childless adults. We were initially concerned that this would mean that childless adults with a serious mental illness could lose their current benefits if the proposal is implemented, but after further analysis we found a way to ensure that more than 80% of these folks can maintain their current benefits under a different Medicaid category. The bottom line is that one of our top priorities over the coming months is to do the necessary work to reclassify these folks into the new category so that we can continue providing services if the proposal is ultimately implemented.