EDITORIAL: Arizona Medical Association supports Proposition 100

May 10, 2010

April 14, 2010 — The state legislature and agencies have faced an insurmountable financial crisis this year, and have had to make drastic and difficult decisions about cuts to state agencies that serve some of our most vulnerable populations. Further cuts will be necessary, and are part of a contingency plan, if Proposition 100, the state sales tax increase of 1 cent on the dollar to 6.6 cents, does not pass.

Proposition 100 would allocate two-thirds of its estimated $1 billion a year to education; the remaining third would be allocated to health and human services and public safety programs. Once passed, Proposition 100 will expire on May 31, 2013.

If Proposition 100 fails, the state Legislature’s contingency plan would make additional cuts of $200 million to health and welfare agencies. The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), the state’s Medicaid program, would be forced to take on an additional $114 million in cuts. This will include a ten percent cut in Medicaid provider reimbursement rates, and a ten percent rate cut to the behavioral-health providers who contract with the Department of Health Services.

The Arizona Medical Association is deeply concerned about the impact of further cuts to a health care system already under a great deal of strain. If these cuts go into effect, we are concerned that they will diminish the state’s remaining services for our most vulnerable populations.

AHCCCS providers have already received a five percent cut in reimbursements; with an additional ten percent cut, they may not be able to continue providing services which force them to subsidize the treatment of their Medicaid patients and threaten their ability stay solvent. Since federal law requires emergency rooms to accept all patients, our hospital emergency rooms, already under duress, will face more crowding.

“It is clear that our state is in a terrible budget crisis, and that without the infusion of funds, programs that every citizen depends upon are going to disappear,” ArMA President and orthopedic surgeon, Beth Purdy, MD, stated, “As concerned members of our community, the physicians of this state, as represented through the Arizona Medical Association, know that reducing or eliminating programs that provide direct patient care is going to be catastrophic for many, and create future problems that will take years to reverse. It is time for us to all pitch in. ArMA supports Proposition 100 and urges all of our citizens to join in the collective effort to help ourselves by voting yes on May 18.”

About Arizona Medical Association

The Arizona Medical Association is a voluntary membership organization for Arizona physicians. The mission of the Arizona Medical Association is to promote and provide leadership in the art and science of medicine; to preserve and improve the health of all the people in Arizona by developing and maintaining the highest standards; to represent the physician and the profession in the public forum; and to defend the freedom and ability of the physician to practice medicine in the best interests of the patient.

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