/ Modified jun 30, 2017 4:51 p.m.

Episode 322: Taking Steps in Health Care, But in What Direction?

A look at proposed health care legislation and its effect on Arizona.

The Senate bill intended to replace the Affordable Care Act this week dominated headlines across the country.

The Congressional Budget Office said the bill will save billions of dollars while kicking more than 20 million people off of their health care plans.

In Arizona, that translates to about 400,000 people losing coverage and the state losing a bout $7 billion in federal funding.

Resistance to the Senate bill has led lawmakers postpone a vote till after the Fourth of July recess, and some patients will be watching and waiting to see what lawmakers decide. Among them, 60-year-old Jerry Peek, a Tucson man whose health issues make it difficult for him to work, and thus have access to health insurance.

The Tucson Medial Center hosted a forum to answer the public’s questions about changes that would come with the proposed legislation. About half a dozen medical leaders spoke to about 600 people in the audience.

The proposed legislation brings significant changes to Medicaid, and subsequently coverage for children. In Arizona, Medicaid covers more than 630,000 children, and pediatrician Eve Shapiro said Medicaid is not only an entitlement program but also a way to empower families.

Also on the program

  • Douglas Spegman of El Rio Community Health Center talk about the Affordable Care Act, its benefits for the health center, and what is to come. El Rio has served vulnerable patients since the ’70s, and most of the 95,000 current patients are considered low income.
  • Greg Vigdor, CEO of the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association, talks about what he calls the “devastating effects” of changes coming to health care in Arizona.
  • The Tucson Medical Center’s Judy Rich talks about the landmark decision by former Gov. Jan Brewer to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Rich says the state has taken a step backward.
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