Obamacare repeal: How would it affect Arizonans?

Posted at 9:23 PM, Mar 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-23 10:04:48-04

As the House vote nears on repealing and replacing Obamacare, we're getting a better idea of how a new plan could impact Arizonans. 

"I served as a vet, held down a job for most of my life," explains Shawn Beales, who served our country in the Army. 

He was able to work until excruciating back pain took over his life. 

"My bottom two vertebrae are totally disintegrated and I have a hard time walking," he explained. 

Beales relies heavily on the VA to provide his medical care — but he's also on Medicaid. 

He considers himself one of the lucky ones who will maintain some form of coverage, regardless of what happens with the new Republican legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare. 

But for the thousands of others across the state who just have Medicaid, it could be a different story. 

"It's not a good thing, honestly," Beales said.

Repealing and replacing Obamacare became a signature trademark of the Trump campaign, especially after the government released new figures, suggesting premiums would skyrocket in many states to 116 percent in Arizona alone.

The goal for Republicans is to put something new in place that will run more efficiently and also not hurt people's bottom line so much. 

But even Republican Governor Doug Ducey, who supports repealing Obamacare, has said in previous interviews that the bill "has room for improvement."

What happens Thursday remains up in the air, and so too do the impacts of a potential new healthcare law.

One thing remains constant: The need for coverage in Arizona. 

"We had a very high need population, to begin with," says ASU Professor Swapna Reddy. "We had a lot of uninsured individuals in need of care that were sick and once they joined the rolls, they really rushed to join once it became available to them and they really used that care."

In 2013, Governor Jan Brewer signed a new law that expanded Medicaid coverage to hundreds of thousands of people in our state.

According to Reddy, the people on that Medicaid expansion list could be the first to lose coverage. 

"It's hard to say whether all of them would lose coverage, but they would take a major hit."