Pancrazi says Colorado shooting should force increase Medicaid coverage

Arizona Representative Lynne Pancrazi, D-Yuma, is using the tragic shooting in Colorado as a reason to push Governor Brewer to expand coverage for mental health care in Arizona.

“If Governor Brewer opts out of expanding Medicaid coverage, the state will have to pay to provide services for thousands of Arizonans who are seriously mentally ill or this population will be left without care,” Pancrazi said. “This vulnerable population deserves help. As we have seen, ignoring the problem can have dire consequences. People put off care for mental illness and for physical ailments, and the problems worsen. Emergency rooms are overwhelmed, and the amount of uncompensated care is pushing the medical community to the brink. We cannot continue on this way.”

The recession forced cuts to Medicaid over the last several years. Since 2010, the Legislature had to cut about $50 million from behavioral health services, significantly reducing resources for thousands of Arizonans who do not qualify for Medicaid. If the governor agrees to expand Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee estimates that about 325,000 Arizonans would have access to health care coverage and the federal government would foot the bill for most of the costs.

Pancrazi is the former president of the Yuma Elementary Education Association and is a member of the National Education Association. Pancrazi received a master’s in elementary education from Northern Arizona University and a bachelor’s in physical education from Point Loma Nazarene College in San Diego.

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