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Advocates Warn Proposed Medicaid Cuts Will Harm Economy

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Eighty percent of Medicaid recipients in the AHCCCS program are employed but do not receive health insurance through their jobs. (headz/iStock)
Eighty percent of Medicaid recipients in the AHCCCS program are employed but do not receive health insurance through their jobs. (headz/iStock)
June 6, 2017

PHOENIX – If the American Health Care Act passes, and the Medicaid expansion is wiped out, not only would 400,000 Arizonans lose health insurance - another 62,000 would lose their jobs.

Those startling statistics from the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System and ASU are the subject of a public forum tonight in Phoenix. The panel will discuss the benefits of funding Medicaid, known in Arizona as AHCCCS.

Dr. Lee McPheters, a research professor of Economics at ASU, is one of the presenters. He says slashing AHCCCS would be a disaster for the state's economy because one in five tax dollars is tied to the federal funds.

"Eventually there'd be a recovery but there'd be a mini-recession in the state," he says. "Because basically, you're pulling out something in the range of $3 billion, $4 billion out of the income flow."

Health care is the state's largest growth industry, responsible for one in five new jobs in the past twenty years - and 15 percent of the state's economy according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Supporters of the AHCA say it will bring down premiums and free people from the government mandate to buy insurance. The forum takes place at 6 P.M. at the ASU Preparatory Academy in Phoenix.

David Lujan, a former state senator who now runs the Arizona Center for Economic Progress, also will be on the panel. He says politicians tend to focus only on the cost of AHCCCS coverage and ignore the many benefits.

"Medicaid not only contributes to jobs but it keeps people healthy so that they can be active members of the workforce so that their kids are healthy and going to school," he says. "When we have healthy communities, then our economy grows as well."

The Senate is negotiating changes to the House version of the AHCA, which passed in early May. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the bill would cause 23 million people to lose health coverage over the next ten years.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - AZ