The Arizona Legislature is now seeking a bipartisan budget as negotiations continue, says Senate Health and Human Services Committee Vice Chair Sen. Tyler Pace (R – Mesa). With Gov. Doug Ducey’s proposed budget failing to pass the House Appropriations Committee in a 6-7 vote, Pace told State of Reform that the legislature has until the end of June to agree on a budget, and that many of the issues being brought up in the health budget discussions have been receiving significant bipartisan support.
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“[The funding mechanisms for health care] are very bipartisan,” Pace said. “I would say everybody on both our health committees in the House and Senate are all supportive of funding health care. Other topics that are going to be more difficult, of course, are tax reform, commerce, K-12 education … With health care, we’ll take what we can get, and if we can negotiate improving the lives of Arizonans through access to health care, we’re going to do it.”
Pace said his maternal health bill, in particular, has been widely popular among both parties in health budget discussions. The bill would appropriate $2.7 million from the state General Fund (GF) and $6.2 million from federal Medicaid expenditure authority in FY 2023 to the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) for services to eligible new mothers who are less than one year postpartum.
He is confident that the bill will get enough votes to appear on the budget.
“We will be the first state to do this in a very clever way, and … the number one best way to save a life in Arizona is to support our moms,” he said.
Pace said some other significant issues coming up in health budget negotiations are health care workforce funding, Medicaid reimbursement rates for the Arizona Long-Term Care System (ALTCS), and Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) funding to deal with increases in wages amid inflation.
“Everything in health care is more expensive than it was two years ago … That’s the number one biggest ask, is how do we deal with inflation by putting more money into that to increase wages?” he said. “How do we incentivize people to come to the workforce? Health care is at its all time low of people coming into the workforce and staying in the workforce.”
Pace also wants to keep a balanced budget amid many expensive programs and initiatives that state legislators are aiming to fund.
“We can’t be single-minded about policy and about how we fund the government. If we fund what needs to be done, from infrastructure, to health care, to education, to our prison systems, to our law enforcement, we have to be balanced. And that’s where we’re at right now, is [asking] ‘How do we balance that when so many people want so many very expensive things?’”
In Ducey’s FY 2023 proposal, he allocates $21.3 million to the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), compared to the $20.7 million in 2022. This represents a funding increase of $605,032.
$661,937 is allocated to the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS), compared to $922,607 in 2022. This represents a $260,670 net decrease in funding.