By Stephanie Innes Arizona Daily Star | Jul 30, 2018
The Affordable Care Act remains law, but its future will be uncertain until after the upcoming elections, University of Arizona health policy expert Dr. Daniel Derksen says.
“Depending on what happens in the midterms, we could certainly go back to some tough times” for health economics in this state, said Derksen, who is a professor of public health policy and director of the Center for Rural Health at the University of Arizona.
“The midterms make an extraordinary difference in what happens in the subsequent two years. Surely if it stays as-is, we’ll see similar bills to what went on before.”
Last year, the Republican-led Congress attempted to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as Obamacare) in proposed legislation that would have cut billions of dollars from the country’s Medicaid program, a government health insurance program for low-income people.
When the government-run Children’s Health Insurance Program is included in the count, Medicaid in the U.S. covers about 75 million Americans. Cuts to Medicaid would lead to more uncompensated care, Derksen and other experts have predicted.
“We continue in Arizona to see some of the best rates we’ve seen for hospitals — operating margins are going up, uncompensated care has really gone down. That has really fueled the strong growth we’ve seen in the health sector,” Derksen said. “We don’t really want to regress. We don’t want to go back to the days of 1.2 to 1.5 million uninsured Arizonans.”
The Star talked to Derksen by phone last week while he was in Flagstaff for the 45th annual Arizona Rural Health Conference, hosted by the Arizona Center for Rural Health in collaboration with the Arizona Rural Health Association.
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