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Arizona May Be Among States Hardest Hit by GOP Health Changes

The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, covers 196,231 Arizonans. (Pixabay)
The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, covers 196,231 Arizonans. (Pixabay)
March 10, 2017

PHOENIX – The House Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act will affect nearly one in three Arizonans.

That includes the 196,000 who buy health insurance on the marketplace, as well as the nearly 2 million people on Medicaid.

Dana Wolfe Naimark, president of the Children's Action Alliance, says changes to Medicaid would affect a broad range of programs, including health care for the elderly, children and people with disabilities.

She says the GOP plan shifts those costs from the federal government to the states.

"Every state will have to make tough decisions about who to cut off, enrollment to freeze, creating waiting lists, but also narrowing coverage,” she points out. “That's dangerous."

For Republicans, however, Arizona is a poster child for what they say is wrong with the Affordable Care Act. Most counties have only one insurer in the plan this year.

Premiums are on average more than double what they were in 2016, but most people don't pay the full price.

The GOP says its plan will encourage insurance companies to reenter the marketplace, creating competition and lowering costs.

But a study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities suggests just the opposite will happen. It predicts Arizonans will see their tax credits to help pay for coverage fall by 55 percent.

Allen Gjersvig, director of Navigator and Enrollment Services with the Arizona Alliance for Community Health Centers, says the ACA protects most consumers from rising costs, but the GOP plan does not.

"Under the ACA, prices go up, tax credits go up,” he points out. “Under the proposed plan, it's that fixed, set, one-size fits all tax plan. It raises the question of, 'Will people just stop buying insurance?'"

It's too early to know how many Arizonans will drop their health insurance if the Republican plan becomes law. A study by Standard and Poor's puts that number at 2 to 4 million nationwide, with another 4 to 6 million being pushed off Medicaid.

Dennis Newman, Public News Service - AZ