Health Care

A Practical Health Care Policy

Endorsed by Planned Parenthood Association of Arizona

There are several healthcare challenges facing Arizona, e.g., the rising cost of health insurance, physician shortage, fraud and abuse, lack of resources for the uninsured. We must do better to provide funding for AHCCCS, KidsCare, the Behavioral Health System and other programs that provide needed preventative and emergency care to residents. Although some of our state’s residents and legislators do not like the National Health Care plan, Arizona cannot stick its head in the sand and ignore the law or address the problems it attempts to address. We should proceed with the development of a state medical plan and not wait for the courts to ruleI do not support continued funding cuts to these programs and I will argue against them in the legislature.

I think most people are simply looking for the best deal with the fewest strings attached, and the rhetoric has made it more difficult for people to determine for themselves if the new health care plan gets them there. I have a friend whose wife was denied insurance for years because of a preexisting condition and the only way she could get coverage was through the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Program (PCIP).  Regardless, this is a complicated issue and one that cannot be intelligently discussed in sound bites or from purely ideological grounds. If we’re to help reduce costs, we need to be healthier and that takes effort on everyone’s part.

AHCCCS Reform

One question we keep hearing is “Would you support the state fully funding AHCCCS so there is not a cost-shift onto private employers and employees?” To that, my answer is in a perfect world: yes. However, this is not a perfect world and we are constrained by budgetary limits. We should keep an eye on how to better provide the financial support while also watching cost increases, paying for unnecessary procedures, etc.  We need to do better and only fixing the economy will allow us to revisit how we support these programs.

Arizona’s Auditor General released a report in June on Medicaid eligibility and found that 5.92 percent of those who received services were ineligible. While the Republicans spin the $3.5-$4M it costs the state into a waste, fraud and abuse issue, the real problem is AHCCCS and DES simply don’t have the funding necessary to staff the offices reviewing applications. The answer to saving the money, then, is to properly staff the agency with enough trained people to do the work and stop the $42-$58M a year in ineligible payments. Since we’re already paying those dollars out in claims, moving them to the staffing line item shouldn’t be that difficult to justify.

With the United States Supreme Court ruling that the Affordable Healthcare Act is Constitutional yet giving state’s the ability to opt-out without penalty, our next legislature will have to deal with how to provide health care to all of our state’s residents. We have seen how electing people who have ideological problems with providing health care assistance for those who cannot afford it hasn’t worked out too well for us. As your state representative, I’ll take a measured and practical approach to the discussions and I’ll vote to do what’s best for you, NOT do what’s best for my donors.