by Jim Nintzel
In her State of the State address, Gov. Jan Brewer called on voters to strip low-income Arizonans of state-subsidized health insurance. In 2000, voters expanded coverage to people who earn up to the federal poverty level, which is $18,310 for a family of three—say, a single mom with two kids. Previously, the state only provided insurance to people who were at 33 percent of the federal poverty level.
But taking away insurance doesn't mean people will stop getting sick. ASU's Morrison Institute notes that without health insurance, more people will end up in emergency rooms, which will mean more losses for hospitals and longer waits for emergency care.
Here's the release from Morrison:
Recent and proposed budget cuts to the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment Systems, the state’s version of Medicaid, could hurt hospitals and patient care throughout the state, especially in handling emergency cases for individuals without insurance.
Among the cuts — totaling $67.7 million when factoring in the loss in federal matching dollars — is $7.8 million in state aid to Arizona hospitals that serve
uninsured patients, The Arizona Republic reported Wednesday.
Arizona has one of the nation’s highest levels of residents without health insurance — almost 20 percent, or one in five residents, noted “Truth and Consequences: Gambling, Shifting, and Hoping in Arizona Health Care,” a report issued by Morrison Institute for Public Policy in June 2009.
Many such individuals wind up in emergency rooms since they have no primary-care physicians. By federal law, many hospitals are required to administer emergency care, regardless of the patient’s ability to pay.
Among other findings by the Morrison Institute study in conjunction with St. Luke’s Health Initiatives and the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University:
· Eight out of 10 Arizonans without insurance are in households where one or more members works at least part time, according to the report.
· Young minority adults who did not graduate from high school and who have incomes slightly above the poverty level are most likely to be uninsured.
· A third of Hispanic working-age adults in Arizona lack coverage compared to 11 percent of non-Hispanic residents.
· Twenty-three percent of Arizona adults under 40 are without insurance coverage, but only 12 percent aged 40-64 lack the support.
· Able-bodied but unemployed adults (32 percent) and those who work for employers with 50 people or less (30 percent) are among the highest rates of uninsured.