As officials try to manage the government budget, their ways have drawn many criticisms especially those that involve reducing health care services to the poor. In a recent proposal, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer wants to cut 300,000 people from their health care plan.
According to Dr. Joseph Goldberger, chief medical officer for the Yavapai Regional Medical Center and a rheumatologist with a private practice, 15 to 20 percent of his patients are insured by the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the Arizona equivalent of Medicaid. By now, AHCCCS fees to doctors have been frozen, he said.
“The untold story is patients with or without insurance continue to get the care,” Goldberger said. “They get the most expensive care of all: ER care. Everybody else ends up paying for that through higher premiums. It has a significant impact.” Many of his arthritis patients need “very expensive” medications and “without insurance, they can’t afford them at all. The bigger problem is the access to medications.”
While Goldberger understands that the state is having budget problems and that education and health care are candidates for cost cuts, there are consequences, such as the loss of federal matching funds. Health providers have already faced a total cut of $67.7 million in state and federal money, according to the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association.