Here’s why lawmakers worry about Arizona’s health insurance options
The Supreme Court of the United States ruling of Texas v. Azar could leave millions of Americans without health insurance.
Arizona is one of the original 20 states challenging the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the case.
The states are challenging that the ACA is unconstitutional after a district court judge in Texas sided with them in December 2018.
Today, the country awaits the decision from the Supreme Court. If the court sides with the states, then that would repeal the ACA, and therefore that would cut funding for state Medicaid programs and the costs would rise for health care.
Although this decision would affect the whole country, according to Arizona Rep. Kellie Butler, this would especially affect Arizona because of its current ranks in a new Georgetown University report.
“It has just come out in a study that we are one of the worst states in the country for increasing number of children who are uninsured,” Butler said. “So, we are going in the wrong direction… we are also in the bottom for funding public health.”
According to Butler, Arizona is also one of the worst states for funding the KidsCare program, which is insurance for children of working families.
“In Arizona we say you can only be making up to $44,000 and after $45,000 you are on your own,” Butler said. “I want to introduce a bill that would just take us up to the U.S. medium and that would increase eligibility up to an income level of $54,000.”
The threats for the ACA are not just from the federal government according to Butler. Arizona has expanded short-term limited duration plans and association health plans.
“The Trump Administration has allowed the expansion of these programs that are basically junk insurances and put people at risk,” Butler said. “Short-term limited duration plans are supposed to be used as a very short-term bridge to something else, but now [Arizona] has expanded the availability to use that for three years, and that traps you in.”
In a Town Hall meeting on November 7 at Educare Arizona, Sen. Ruben Gallego said he is passionate about healthcare because it is a topic that hits close to home. Gallego led the push for expansion of Medicaid in Arizona. That expansion helped one of his family members.
“Personally, someone very close to me, ended up without health insurance, and because of the expansion bill I did years ago that person has health insurance now and is not in debt,” Gallego said. “If it were not for Medicaid expansion, they could have gone bankrupt.”
According to Gallego, the problem with repealing the ACA is that there is not replacement plan.
“The problem [Republicans] don’t understand is that in order for you to replace the ACA, which is not perfect and could be better, you need a plan to actually replace it with that works,” Gallego said.
The plans the Republicans do come up with only involve junk insurances according Gallego.
“Junk insurances are like buying car insurance,” Gallego said. “What happens is, you get in a car accident and only get two out of four wheels covered. Well congratulations you have car insurance, but you don’t have a car. That’s what you have here with junk plans, and Martha McSally was the ringleader of that.”
According to Gallego, Sen. Martha McSally is not protecting those with preexisting conditions and instead is protecting junk plans.
“Just last week [McSally] had an opportunity to basically put on statement that she’s truly going to protect those with preexisting conditions,” Gallego said. “Instead, she votes to protect these junk plans. These junk plans are going to make people believe they have preexisting conditions, but they will not be covered. They are going to believe that they will have a slow premium and low deductible until it hits them that whenever they have an illness or an accident, they are going to have a higher premium and a high deductible.”
Arizona Sen. Martha McSally was asked to comment, but there was no response.
Marcos Castillo was born in Yuma, but after being in an accident 18 years ago, he had to move to Phoenix for hospitalization and rehabilitation. Castillo’s biggest worry is not his health, it is healthcare.
“One of the biggest things that hinders my family is healthcare,” Castillo said. “When I had my injury, I was very close to the poverty line. In the eight years after finding a job was nearly impossible. When the Affordable Care Act was implemented into law, it gave me a pathway to become a more efficient member of society.”
According to Castillo, the possibility of the ACA being repealed can prevent him from continuing to be an efficient member.
“You can’t be efficient if your health isn’t with you,” Castillo said. “I can’t be healthy if I don’t have insurance.”