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Report: Ending ACA Could Hurt Thousands of Arizonans

Almost 3 million Arizonans have preexisting conditions that could force them to pay more for health insurance or lose coverage if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. (totojang1977/Adobe Stock)
Almost 3 million Arizonans have preexisting conditions that could force them to pay more for health insurance or lose coverage if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. (totojang1977/Adobe Stock)
August 3, 2020

PHOENIX -- Thousands of Arizonans - both children and adults - could feel the effects if the Affordable Care Act is repealed during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new study.

A case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court could end the ACA, also known as Obamacare, if a court majority finds it unconstitutional. And according to the Arizona State University report, that would mean about 360,000 Arizonans, including 100,000 children, would immediately lose their health-care coverage.

Study co-author Matthew Speer, research associate in the College of Health Solutions at ASU, said for many people, there is no Plan B.

"For better or for worse, the Affordable Care Act is, especially amidst a global pandemic, very much the backstop for a lot of Americans and a lot of Arizonans when it comes to ensuring that they have access to health care," Speer said.

The case, brought by Texas and 18 other states, including Arizona, argues that because the high court ruled the ACA's mandatory insurance clause unconstitutional, the entire program should be repealed. A ruling isn't expected until the fall term.

Speer said if the ACA is scrapped, it would hit hardest for Arizonans who need health insurance the most - those with chronic conditions, low incomes or both.

"Roughly 2.8 million Arizonans have a pre-existing condition that, prior to the ACA, would have been essentially criteria for which their insurers could deny coverage, could increase premiums, increase costs," he said.

Zaida Dedolph, director of health policy at the Children's Action Alliance, said kids who grow up with insurance coverage have fewer unmet health needs, miss fewer days of school and even earn more money when they reach adulthood.

"Another thing that the report touches on is the 10 Essential Health Benefits. They're hugely important to ensuring that people are able to access preventive care, which we know not only helps keep people healthier, but reduces overall health-care costs," Dedoph said.

Despite calls to "repeal and replace" the ACA, only one plan has ever been considered. In 2017, the late Arizona Sen. John McCain's infamous "thumbs-down" vote killed the GOP-backed measure. There are currently no other plans under consideration.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AZ