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Arizona would be impacted if Supreme Court overturns Affordable Care Act

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., swears in Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett for her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Monday, Oct. 12, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Win McNamee/Pool via AP)

PHOENIX — At the center of hearings to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court is the future of the Affordable Care Act, and Arizona could face the fall out if that decision happens.

If Barrett is confirmed, she could be on the nation’s highest court when it hears arguments on whether the ACA is constitutional. That hearing is set for Nov. 10, a week after the general election.

“If the Affordable Care Act is overturned, one of the projections I have heard is the state is at risk of losing $1.7 billion,” said Tara McCollum Plese, chief external affairs officer for the Arizona Alliance for Community Health Center.

That’s money going toward the expansion of Arizona’s Medicaid program, known as the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, or AHCCCS.

Plese said at least 109,000 Arizonans who have health insurance through the state’s expansion of Medicaid would be disenrolled and, therefore, lose their coverage if the ACA is overturned.

In addition, thousands of people who have health insurance through the ACA’s marketplace would lose coverage. Plese said about 160,500 people signed up for health insurance through the marketplace during the last enrollment period.

“That is a lot of people in Arizona who would lose their health care coverage,” she said. “That’s people from young children to childless adults to the elderly population that desperately need this coverage.”

The issue before the Supreme Court is whether the health law’s penalty for not having insurance is constitutional. Barret has criticized two previous rulings supporting the law.

Plese said it’s not just the marketplace and the Medicaid expansion that’s at risk of going way if the Supreme Court overturns the ACA.

It’s also other provisions, such as protections for people with pre-existing conditions, the ability for young people to stay under their parents’ health insurance until they’re 26 years old and a ban on lifetime or annual caps for insurance coverage.

“In the thousand pages of the Affordable Care Act is a lot of stuff that people are really benefiting from now, including a lot of good public health programs and policies,” Plese said.

“We’re just really concerned that at this juncture after ten years of working hard to ensure that these things are in place and they’re working well, that there’s a good possibility we could lose that,” she added.

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