I am often asked why I am so passionate about access to health insurance. The simple answer is that I have a pre-existing condition.
Like thousands of Arizonans, I have asthma and flare-ups every few years were enough to prevent me from buying health insurance on the private market under the pre-2010 private insurance standards.
The Affordable Care Act closed the loophole preventing coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions and allowed me the freedom to leave my “corporate day job” and become an entrepreneur. For the first time in my working life, I was able to follow my passion and not worry about losing my health insurance.
I have run my own consulting firm since 2012 and have been able to help several smaller nonprofits with their policy and advocacy work in Arizona and Sonora. This freedom to work for myself is under attack as our national leaders try to, once again, exclude individuals with pre-existing conditions from the private insurance market. The fear is that we will return to a time when private insurance companies would not sell, at any price, coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions.
How can we as a state ensure that individuals continue to have access to purchase health insurance when the coverage for pre-existing conditions is rescinded? This problem keeps me awake at night because it affects everyone in my family and almost everyone that I know.
Representative Kelli Butler introduced HB2443 last session. HB2443 would have allowed individuals who are excluded from the private insurance market to pay a premium and buy into the state’s Medicaid program, AHCCCS.
It was a good bill that would have protected the livelihood of a lot of Arizonans and local small business owners. In 2018, it was not given a hearing because of partisan politics.
Protecting our ability to purchase health insurance ensures access to preventative and acute healthcare. It allows individuals to see a doctor in the physician’s office and avoid overuse of our emergency rooms for non-emergency care.
Why should every taxpayer care about this?
Because it is illegal, immoral and unethical for emergency rooms to deny patients care based on their ability to pay their bill. When our local hospitals, ambulance providers and emergency medical professionals have uncollectable debt, it is written off and absorbed by taxpayers throughout Arizona.
When individuals have access to purchase health insurance, they see their medical professionals for preventative and routine care and visit our emergency rooms less. Many of our medical providers in Ahwatukee are small businesses.
When patients have insurance, they are more likely to pay their bills. This allows our medical providers to employ staff, pay rent, and continue to generate economic growth in our local community.
I will work to make sure HB2443 gets re-introduced and gets a hearing, a debate and a vote. Access to purchase health insurance is an essential safety net for families and individuals with pre-existing conditions.