Arizonans debate the merits of GOP health care proposal

The new Senate bill keeps Obamacare's structure, but gradually makes deep cuts to Medicaid. Nico Santos verifies what that means for Arizona.

PHOENIX - A bitter back-and-forth over health care has taken center stage at the Capitol, but even conservative Republicans in Arizona have their concerns over the Senate’s health care proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer urged Congress Thursday to find a way to save the Medicaid expansion that is outlined under the Affordable Care Act.

Medicaid is a major concern after details of the latest proposal dropped Thursday morning.

"It is not life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, because life to me is good health,” said cancer survivor Elizabeth Enright.

She said she views the latest health care bill “un-American.”

"No one should have to be deprived of medical care or have to declare bankruptcy to pay for it,” she said, explaining she found herself in that position when her insurance would not coverage her treatment the second time she had breast cancer, because it was considered a pre-existing condition.

Currently battling cancer for fourth time -- right now, stage 4.

The medicine she takes can potentially cost thousands of dollars a month. Right now, she pays less than $10 a month thanks to her Medicaid coverage that she is afraid to lose.

"It's like a death sentence for older Americans. That's my belief,” she said.

But critics say the Senate bill is not all bad.

Matthew Benson with the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association said time would be better spent improving Obamacare -- not replacing it.

But he admits the new proposal includes cuts to Medicaid that would be delayed for several more years, longer than the previous health care proposal at the House level.

"But you're going to get to the same place,” said Benson, “and that is millions of Americans who no longer have coverage."

Enright said it’s not much longer in the grand scheme of things, calling it only “a blink of an eye. It's like saying, 'We'd like you to be dead in five years so that it won't matter.'"

The new health care bill would also force insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions; however, individual states would decide whether to provide what are called essential health benefits.

"So, if states decide 'We no longer want to provide mental health coverage, or maternity coverage, or emergency coverage,' they can exempt themselves from that,’ said Benson.

The exact future of health care is unclear at this time.

Republicans are pushing to get a vote in before the July 4 week-long recess.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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