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Head of Arizona public health group happy to see US House change hands

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PHOENIX – The head of an Arizona public health organization welcomed the outcome of Tuesday’s election, with Democratic control of the U.S. House likely to prevent further attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“I think a lot of us in public health are really relieved to see the results,” Will Humble, executive director for the Arizona Public Health Association, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Wednesday, a day after Democrats gained the majority in the House.

Humble’s organization seeks to improve the health and well-being of Arizonans through advocacy, professional development and networking.

“Our fear was that if the House had not turned, and especially seeing what happened in the Senate, that there’d be a round two for repealing the Affordable Care Act, and none of us in public health wanted to see that,” he said.

Attempts to repeal former President Barack Obama’s signature legislation fell short during the two years Republicans controlled the presidency and both houses of Congress.

Repeal efforts have been on hold since Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain gave a dramatic thumbs-down to a “skinny repeal” of the health law in July 2017, shortly after he was diagnosed with brain cancer.

It was one of McCain’s last official actions before he left Capitol Hill for the final time, and he died a little more than a year later.

Humble said the election results will impact other areas of the federal government, too.

He said having Democrats in charge of the House will improve the oversight of federal agencies that deal with public health issues, including the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Environmental Protection Agency.

“I think we’re going see an opportunity, at least, for some additional oversight of those executive branch agencies in making sure that they’re staying within the lanes of their statutory authority as they make decisions,” he said.

Humble said he doesn’t anticipate much change in how Arizona issues are handled, because state public health policy tends to gain approval by both parties.

“If you’ve got good public health policy that’s backed up with solid science and a compelling reason to implement the policy initiative, in most cases we can be pretty successful in a bipartisan way,” he said.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ashley Flood contributed to this report.

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