Healthcare 2013: Valley nonprofit says expand Medicaid or face consequences

PHOENIX - A Valley nonprofit released a new report urging state lawmakers to expand Medicaid or face higher costs down the road.

St. Luke's Health Initiatives is a healthcare organization in Phoenix. The report they released shows how important restoring and expanding Medicaid is in their view. 

About 300,000 people have lost healthcare coverage over the past few years during the recession.

Another 50,000 could lose coverage by the end of the year.

Kim Van Pelt who helped write the report said the state can pay some now or a lot more later. 

"Those costs don't go away," she said. "These people either develop profound health issues or end up at an emergency room and those costs are passed on and paid by the rest of us."

This affects people like Valley resident Christine Zeigra who, after being part of the workforce for 12 years, lost her job in 2010 and her healthcare coverage soon after. 

She is dealing with Spina bifida and has already lost one leg. But she insists that's not as bad as the fear of medical bills. 

"I would pray every night thinking I was going to die because my blood pressure was so high," Zeigra said.

Governor Jan Brewer is proposing Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, but several top state Republicans have said they cannot support it without major changes. 

Those decisions will have to be made over the next several weeks.

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