Will be impossible for approximately 350,000 Arizonans who will be dropped from the Medicaid program’s rolls if Governor Brewer’s proposal to ask voters to rescind Prop. 204 is successfully implemented and limits program eligibility to 33-36 percent (with a variety of exceptions) of the federal poverty level from the 100 percent it is today.
If you are an individual in this group that would be dropped from coverage, you have income of approximately $330-$910 per month. If you’re a family of four, you have income of approximately $665-$1850 per month. Arizona Senate leader Bob Burns says you just have to make health care a priority and “take care of yourself.” Assuming you will have to pay for a roof over your head, clothing and food, transportation, etc., you can check today’s prices for health care services, do the math and quickly see the problem. You won’t have any money for health care, period.
So what will you do? You’ll delay care until you really need it, then you’ll show up at the ER or some other location like a community clinic, where care will somehow be provided – and far more expensively than what timely, preventive care costs. But in most instances it won’t be free. The costs will be shifted to those who do have coverage, health insurance premiums will rise, employers will pass along the extra costs to their employees or drop coverage altogether, more people will become uninsured, and the cycle will be repeated.
While we debate the pros and cons of balancing the budget through cuts to entitlement programs like AHCCCS, we need to pay attention to the potential ripples through the entire health care system. Meanwhile, we need to continue to press for real health care reform, which unfortunately doesn’t resemble anything that is likely to come out of Washington in the near future. That’s a subject we’ll be exploring in the days and months ahead.