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AZ Week Notebook entry


Gov. Jan Brewer wrote to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Thursday asking for a meeting to discuss her requested waiver for Arizona regarding its Medicaid standards.

It's the second letter Brewer has sent to Sebelius in a week, the first one being the actual request for the waiver.

This time, the governor said she was encouraged that Sebelius has told the nation's governors that she wants to work with them to create a sustainable Medicaid system. At the same time, Brewer expressed worry that Sebelius might be thinking that she doesn't have the authority to waive a state's Medicaid benefits requirements.

" ... you appear uncertain whether you have authority to waive maintenance of effort requirements under the law," Brewer wrote in Thursday's letter. "I believe strongly that you do."

Brewer has asked the federal government to waive Arizona's voter-imposed benefit for health care for the poor, a move that would save the state $541.5 million and be the biggest step toward a balanced budget for 2011-12.

Such a move, though, would knock 280,000 poor Arizonans off of state-supported health care and would cause the state to lose $1 billion in federal matching money. That loss would cost the state 46,700 jobs, mostly in the private sector, an Arizona State University economist has estimated.

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About AZ Week Notebook

News and commentary from Arizona Week producer/host Michael Chihak and interns Melanie Huonker and Lucy Valencia.

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Kathleen Sebelius Medicaid