In today’s blog, Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association (AzHHA) Senior Vice President & Chief Operating Officer Jim Haynes, shares his insight on the recent decline in AHCCCS numbers.
Over the last 17 years, with interruptions due only to programmatic changes, the AHCCCS population has steadily increased as illustrated below:
The increases over the years have certainly been impacted by programmatic changes such as the Kids Care implementation and the Prop 204 passage which provided Medicaid coverage to the childless adult population. But in addition, the increase has also been impacted by the overall population increase in the state. Since the year 2000 the state population has increased by 37 percent.
However over the last eight months we are starting to see a change as the AHCCCS population has actually declined by 4 percent, despite an overall population increase of almost two percent as shown below:
While it is difficult to state definitely why the AHCCCS population is decreasing, according to Tom Betlach, the AHCCCS Director:
“The decline is likely a combination of three factors:
1) The Arizona unemployment rate of 4.7% (June 2018 preliminary) is at the lowest level in more than a decade and very near the pre-recession rate of 4.1% (November 2007).
2) The minimum wage increases have resulted in average hourly wages growing by about 2.5% per year since 2015. At the same time, the federal poverty level has grown by less than 1% annually. Logically this results in transitions from lower-income eligibility groups to higher-income eligibility groups and from higher-income eligibility groups to disenrollment from the program.
3) The Arizona birth rate continues to decline from nearly 103,000 births in 2007 to about 81,000 last year. Since AHCCCS historically pays for approximately 50% of Arizona births, that means fewer pregnant women, birth payments, and infants enrolled in the program.”
We’d love to hear your thoughts on these numbers and what it may mean to the people of our state. Generating meaningful dialogue around the health issues affecting Arizonans is another way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!