he Arizona legislature has passed a bill establishing a federally funded indigent health care program without some of the requirements of Medicaid.
The bill is expected to attract $50 million a year in Title 19 (Medicaid) funds during a three-year test.
Arizona is the only state not enrolled in Medicaid. Indigent health care, with an annual price tag of $145 million, has been provided solely by the state's 14 counties. Some rural counties were nearing bankruptcy, mainly because of soaring health care costs.
In order to attract Democratic support for the measure, Republicans agreed to add several services, including dental, vision and hearing care for children in the second year of the program. They also removed the exclusion for people over 65.
But, unlike Medicaid, the Arizona plan does not provide long-term nursing home care, professional home health care and family planning services.
The program, scheduled to begin Oct. 1, is designed to provide the full cost of health care for the state's 100,000 indigents, including those who receive Social Security, Aid to Families with Dependent Children and Supplemental Security Income.
In addition, 55,000 medically needy people with an annual income up to $3,200 would be covered, but they would pay 10 percent of the costs. Indigents and the medically needy would be assessed a co-payment, possibly $1, for each visit to a doctor or hospital.
Health services would be provided under prepaid contracts, based on per capita costs. Doctors, hospitals, health maintenance organizations and insurance companies would bid for contracts to provide care. Medicaid has no such cost-containment figure.
The federal government pays 60 percent of Medicaid costs. Under the Arizona program, the federal contribution will be slightly less than that.