Arizona may not need the waiver to drop 280,000 people off the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), the state's Medicaid program, because it was using a waiver to put those people on it after it was approved by voters in 2000.
Gov. Jan Brewer said Tuesday she has received a letter from U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that says Arizona could make the change by not extending the previous waiver. It expires at the end of September.
According to Brewer, Sebelius said she believed that would not violate the maintenance-of-effort provision in the federal health care reform legislation passed last year, which prohibits states from reducing Medicaid eligibility.
In seeking the waiver, Brewer estimated reducing the AHCCCS roles would save the state $541.5 million, which is about half of its current estimated budget deficit.
Arizona was the first state to seek a waiver and those who opposed it had hoped that the Obama administration would refuse to approve it because it would set a precedent.