by Jim Nintzel
Thomas Betlach, the director of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, has some bad news for Gov. Jan Brewer: The estimated cost of the new health-care reform package for the state of Arizona is $11.6 billion over between fiscal years 2011 and 2020.
In a statement, Brewer called the costs "staggering."
That cost includes restoring the huge cuts to AHCCCS and KidsCare that lawmakers made earlier this month to balance the budget. That funding has to be restored, according to Betlach's analysis, in order to remain eligible for federal Medicare funding.
Arizona is a victim of the generosity of voters, who expanded health-care coverage to everyone below the federal poverty level with the Healthy Arizona initiative in 2000. Had voters not expanded coverage, the additional costs to the state would have been roughly $860 million less a year, according to Betlach.