Repeal and Public Health Funding

A recent headline in the Tucson Sentinel read: “Obamacare repeal could cut millions from AZ public health funding.” How many millions? According to the story, more than $46 million in federal public health funds could be lost over a five year period.

Those numbers come from a report released by the national health policy organization – Trust for America’s Health. The Arizona section of the report, in part, said:

The state of Arizona would lose at least $46,840,075 to counter health crises over the next 5 years if the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF), part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), were repealed, according to an analysis by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH).

Cronkite News/Arizona PBS pointed out that “there is no guarantee Republicans would cut the Prevention and Public Health Fund when they are mostly concerned with the more controversial aspects of the Affordable Care Act.” However, if it does happen, the fallout in our state could be significant.

But health experts in Arizona said taking away federal funding could leave the state vulnerable at a time when Arizonans face several public health issues, including a growing opioid problem, threats of the mosquito-borne Zika virus and obesity-related illnesses and injuries.

“We have that type of mosquito (that carries Zika) in our state, and with the way people travel, it will move its way here – and we have to be prepared for that,” said Dr. Daniel Derksen, a professor of public health at the University of Arizona.

He said the opioid epidemic was a more immediate threat, and that if money isn’t invested to prevent opioid use and to educate the community about its risks, it will have to be spent later down the line in the prison system.

Governor Doug Ducey just wrote a guest column for the Daily Courier in Prescott where he voiced his support for the repeal of Obamacare but warned of consequences outside of any potential loss in public health funding. Governor Ducey’s focus was on a replacement plan that ensures Arizonans “have access to quality hospitals and doctors to treat them” – particularly in rural areas of our state.

“We don’t want to see rural Arizonans lose access to care or have to travel unacceptably long distances to get life-saving medical treatments which would create a serious problem, especially in emergency situations, where seconds and minutes can make the difference between life and death.

In the last decade or so, Arizona has already lost three rural hospitals. As part of the repeal of Obamacare, there must be a patient-focused, common-sense replacement that also protects the viability of our rural health care providers.”

Let us know what people are talking about in your community as it relates to the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). We will continue to provide you with the very latest information and take a closer look at how national decisions could affect the people of our state. Generating meaningful conversations around the health issues making headlines is another way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!

 

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