Butler: Arizona Legislature health care debate loses sight of humanity

Lately, the conversations I have with my neighbors are not about Democrats or Republicans — but instead we talk about the chaos they see in our state legislature, and how worried we all are about the future of our state.

Kelli Butler

The issue at the top of their mind? Access to quality and affordable health care for themselves and for their families.
Health care has long been a divisive issue in politics, but over the last year, it’s become a real disaster. I know my community is tired of the partisan politicking.

Common-sense policies, including protections for pre-existing conditions and our own Medicaid expansion program would be eliminated if the Republican-majority in Congress repeals the Affordable Care Act.

Further attempts by Congress to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions would put 2.8 million Arizonans in jeopardy of losing their health insurance. And unfortunately for seniors, Republicans are introducing a so-called “age tax,” which would force people over 50 to pay up to 5 times more for health care than younger folks.

These attacks will hurt hardworking Arizona families and damage our economy. Healthcare spending represents a sixth of our nation’s economy, and in Arizona, our largest employer is Banner Health. While thoughtful reform is obviously needed, this isn’t something we should do on partisan terms.

I am working on a state-level innovative program that would provide consumers with an affordable, quality option for health insurance. I plan to introduce legislation that will allow individuals the choice to purchase their health insurance through our state’s existing Medicaid program. This solution would mean more competition and consumer choice in the insurance marketplace.

I know we need sensible solutions to improve health policy. I am meeting with public health and industry experts, seeking input from community groups and support from colleagues on both sides of the aisle. I hope you’ll join me in calling for this real, state-level reform.

Please feel free to contact me if you have questions, input or concerns.

Editor’s note: Ms. Butler, a Democrat, is a member of the Arizona House of Representatives

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