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Health Advocates Criticize Plan to Repeal ACA Without a Replacement

Health-care advocates warn that 709,000 Arizonans, including many children, could lose health coverage under a partial repeal of the Affordable Care Act. (Carolina Quezada/Nat'l. Assn. of Community Health Centers)
Health-care advocates warn that 709,000 Arizonans, including many children, could lose health coverage under a partial repeal of the Affordable Care Act. (Carolina Quezada/Nat'l. Assn. of Community Health Centers)
December 13, 2016

PHOENIX – Almost 30 million Americans, including 709,000 Arizonans, could lose their health insurance by 2019 if Congress repeals key sections of the Affordable Care Act without a new plan in place, according to a new report by the Urban Institute. Researchers looked at what would happen if Congress reverses the individual mandate, the expansion of Medicaid, and the federal premium supports.

Tara McCollum Plese chief external affairs officer of the Arizona Alliance for Community Health Centers, said the state stands to lose more than $42 billion in federal funding over ten years.

"It's extremely alarming," she said. "It is going to be very costly to our state and to the Medicaid program, since we are an expansion state. We will see many people who will actually lose health-care coverage."

The report predicts that in 2019 alone, Arizona would lose almost $2.6 billion in Medicaid and 'CHIP' funds and $877 million in subsidies to help people afford coverage. Plese added that the uninsured would end up in emergency rooms, costing hospitals and clinics millions in uncompensated care.

Joan Alker, executive director of Georgetown University's Center for Children and Families, said a partial repeal would undo most of the gains made since the passage of the ACA.

"We just celebrated the fact that 95 percent of kids now have coverage in this country," she said. "But now Congress is poised to take a U-turn and taking away affordable coverage options, which would actually double the number of uninsured kids."

The report also found that the individual insurance market would be severely disrupted and the share of people under age 65 without insurance would increase from 11 percent to 21 percent. That's higher than it was before the ACA.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - AZ