Obamacare quick repeal may harm Arizonans, Ducey says

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey wants Congress to slow down repealing Obamacare.

Photo by Howard Fischer.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey wants Congress to slow down repealing Obamacare.

PHOENIX – Saying he fears harm to Arizonans, Gov. Doug Ducey on Friday urged Congress to not rush repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

“I don’t want to see any Arizonan have the rug pulled out from underneath them in terms of changing this law,’’ the governor told an audience of business executives, lobbyists and lawmakers.

“We can take a little time to get there,’’ he explained. “There’s no rush, although we should have a sense of urgency because it’s topical now.”

Ducey said it’s not that he’s a fan of the program.

“I believe that Obamacare is a monumental failure and a rolling disaster,’’ he said.

The governor said that has been borne out as the program has matured, with 14 of the state’s 15 counties having only a single provider. And he said premiums are increasing by 50 percent or more.

“This program is failing under its own weight,’’ Ducey said.

But the governor sought to dampen the enthusiasm of Republican members of Congress who already are moving to make outright repeal of the program their first order of business

“The skill is in the replacement of what everyone wanted to see, which was a better health care market,’’ he said.

Ducey said that will require a more measured approach than what occurred in 2010 when it was rushed through so quickly with no Republican votes that some members of Congress quipped that they had to vote for the measure to know what was in it.

“This time, how ’bout you read the bill before you sign it?’’ Ducey said.

More to the point, the governor said this time Congress should have broad input, including patients, doctors, advocates, insurers and the pharmaceutical industry.

That statement, however, ignores what did occur.

Obama convened a “health summit’’ shortly after taking office and brought in all of the interests that Ducey said Friday now need to be part of what comes next. And it took months before the final plan was approved by Congress.

Explaining his position after his public comments, Ducey said it’s important for the new Congress to see the issue not just in terms of finally having the votes – and a signature from the new president – to get their way on an issue that not a single Republican supported.

“I think the first thing to realize is that we are talking about people and people’s lives,’’ the governor said. “The problem with Obamacare is that it was rushed and it was hurried and it was partisan,’’ he continued, saying he believes federal lawmakers can do better if they take the time.

But Ducey was cagey when asked if he had conveyed his views to the Republican members of the congressional delegation, many of whom ran on platforms of making the repeal of the Affordable Care Act their first priority.

“I think I’m being recorded right now,’’ he quipped, suggesting that his views will get to Washington through the media.

There’s a potentially more immediate – and more direct – concern for Ducey if lawmakers repeal the federal law and the funding that goes with it.

Ducey predecessor Jan Brewer took advantage of one provision of the Affordable Care Act that said the federal government would pick up pretty much the entire cost if states expanded eligibility for their Medicaid programs.

Medicaid already paid about two-thirds of the cost for what Arizona had, which was free care for those below the federal poverty level. But in 2013 Brewer convinced lawmakers to extend the program to those up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level on the governor’s promise it would bring in $1.6 billion a year.

Ducey inherited that program. But if the Affordable Care Act goes away, so does the federal money.

The governor sidestepped questions of what is in his backup plan.

“These are all hypotheticals and I’m not going to deal with them,’’ he responded.

But it was that hypothetical that caused Brewer in 2013 to take a strong stance against Republican members of Congress who already were trying to repeal the law.

Brewer said then, like Ducey said Friday, she was never a fan of the program, pointing out she was among several governors who sued – unsuccessfully – to have it declared unconstitutional.

But she told Capitol Media Services at the time that once it was clear the law would take effect, she sought ways to have Arizona take advantage of the provision that rewards states that expand their Medicaid program. And she said that made it worthwhile to fight with state legislators from her own Republican Party – and even form an alliance with Democrats – to push the plan through.

“The bottom line is, we need that money in our economy to save rural hospitals and jobs in rural areas,’’ Brewer said at the time.

Comments

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Wildrose 1 week, 5 days ago

How ridiculous! The libs in the press have put out this narrative that Obamacare will be suddenly taken away and 20 million people will be without care. That is not the case. Governor Ducey didn't do his homework. Does anyone honestly believe all the Republicans involved are that stupid?

And premiums are increasing by 50%? Nationwide, it has been reported that in Arizona, premiums have increased well over 100%, the worst increase in the nation.

It is a disaster. It has to completely go in the end. I have never seen a program more destructive to America. When you dig in and start reading, it is just stunning some of the things happening under it.

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Trakker 1 week, 5 days ago

"Does anyone honestly believe all the Republicans involved are that stupid?" Ummm, yep!

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kingmansucks 1 week, 5 days ago

110% raise for Arizonians and no rush.lol

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justanobody 1 week, 5 days ago

I get my information from the news, just like all of you. and NO WHERE did it say they were dropping it ( obama care)WITHOUT a replacement! why is everyone crying" the sky is falling" when NO ONE has said anything like that! what I heard , and understand, is that a more affordable, and better coverage program is being proposed, not one that no one has ever read the entire proposal! and one that does not penalize you for not signing up. obama care was forced upon the USA, by a dummy who didn't have a clue to what he was doing, and was manipulated by the insurance companies. that will NOT happen with our new president, I sure there are those snowflakes who still think obama was great, or hillary was the answer, but as time passes, you will find that we are alot better off, than when an illegal was in the white house!

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Trakker 1 week, 4 days ago

The GOP has been screaming they would repeal it on day one just as Trump ran his campaign on it! Where stupid really comes into to play is that for the last 6 years they have been trying to repeal it...without a replacement. You would of thought in those 6 years they could of came up with some "ideas" or have a "plan" to replace it....they didn't do anything but complain...now that's stupid!

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JohnHarden 1 week, 5 days ago

“This time, how ’bout you read the bill before you sign it?’’ Ducey said.

Ducey should know better; no Congressman or woman actually "reads" a bill. They have their staff pour over the details, some don't even do that, but no one seriously "reads" a bill.

Has it occurred to anyone that BECAUSE of the ACA, Obamacare, that finally the republicans are SERIOUSLY considering actually doing something about the medical insurance, or lack of, in this country! Before this bill, no republican in their right mind wanted anything to do with any kind of mandated medical insurance. Now, they're all acting so righteous, so determined.

I guess Obamacare wasn't so bad after all, huh?

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Gunguy45 1 week, 5 days ago

Yes, for some of the people it is indeed that bad. Every person I've talked to who's carrier pulled out and they had to sign up for one of the plans hates it. Extremely high deductibles, higher premiums, less coverage, co-pays are more, and there's always that penalty if you don't sign up and just want to pay your own way.

I know a woman who has a recurring leg issue but good health otherwise. Well, when it last flared up they wanted an x-ray and some bloodwork. Now she's left with a bill of $84 a month for the next year where she used to be seen and treated for about $100 out of pocket. What if it happens again this fiscal year, she won't be able to afford food!

Of course those who had no insurance and used the ER like a clinic think Ocare is great cause they don't pay a dime.

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RR 1 week, 5 days ago

How many of the elderly complainers also receive AHCCCS? Food Stamps? Lets cut them off also, and see how fast they`ll suddenly love Obamacare. I had to make a note of this statement too, "an illegal was in the white house". Really? The purveyors of fake news have mesmerized some of the residents here!

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Smith 1 week, 4 days ago

Beware what you wish for! Health Care is a leech upon society, its main members are hospitals, doctors, health insurance industry, corporations which make medicines, none of them care about but one thing, their individual bottom lines and pocket books, when a hospital can charge $5 for a single aspirin that one can buy entire bottle for that amount we have no issue with lack of health care but the crooks benefiting off the system they want Obama Care removed I agree remove it, replace it with Medicaid for everyone, make a pay roll tax like social security, make sure the crooked politicians cannot divert the money to anything else, put the insurance companies out of business with single payer, government run! Those spinning the fear of socialized medicine are the profiteers in the status quo!

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Gunguy45 1 week, 3 days ago

Good ole Smith, with his quick knee jerk solution. Health care is a leech....but you want to just put everyone on Medicaid? Isn't that still leaving us with health care? Why don't you look up some numbers and see the amount of fraud in Medicare, Medicaid, and SS disability. It's high because the people in charge have no horse in the race, no money in the game, no dog in the fight, no pig in the poke (lol). The people running it your way would be government drones or contractors. Insurance companies try to catch as much fraud as possible just for their bottom line. Who do you think would notice millions in over billings first, the government that wastes billions every year or a business that has to make money.

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