Arizona governor wants Medicaid 'fat fee'

April 15, 2011

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer wants the obese and smokers to pay a $50 fee to enroll in the state?s Medicaid program.

 

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer wants the obese and smokers to pay a $50 fee to enroll in the state’s Medicaid program.

If approved by the state legislature, it would be the first time the program has charged people for engaging in unhealthy behavior. The Wall Street Journal has dubbed the surcharge a “fat fee.”

The fee would apply only to certain people without dependent children, including the obese and smokers. Obese people could avoid the fee by working with their primary care physicians on a weight loss plan, and smokers of course would have the option to quit.

Brewer, a Republican, is offering the GOP-controlled legislature an incentive to pass the measure. It’s part of a bigger plan to restore some of the cuts she made to Medicaid. Her proposal would restore coverage of organ transplants and reduce the number of childless adults disqualified from Medicaid from 250,000 to 135,000.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) probably would have to approve the fee.