by Jim Nintzel
Glenn Hamer of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry says Gov. Jan Brewer’s plan to save hundreds of millions of dollars by cutting health-care insurance coverage hundreds of thousands of Arizona workers is the wrong way to go.
Brewer wants to ask voters to rescind the Healthy Arizona proposition they passed in 2000. That prop required the state to give health-care coverage to anyone under the federal poverty line, which is now $18,310 for a family of three. Before that passed, Arizona residents who earned more than one-third of the federal poverty level were ineligible for state coverage.
Hamer warns that reducing that coverage would have dire consequences for the state’s health-care industry.
“If you’re taking 300,000 people off of health insurance, it doesn’t mean they won’t receive care,” Hamer says. “Federal law requires that care be provided in the emergency room for people who go there for health-care needs. It’s going to be covered one way or another. That’s a highly inefficient, extremely expensive way to provide care.”
Hamer says that ends up increasing costs for hospitals, which leads to a “hidden health-care tax.”
“What winds up happening is those costs are passed on to private insurance, private insurance passes those costs on to the private sector and the cost of insurance goes up, which means fewer businesses can afford to provide coverage, which means that fewer Arizonans will have coverage,” he says.