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New health care funding could aid Phoenix’s uninsured

PHOENIX — City of Phoenix leaders, as well as hospital and business leaders have announced the Phoenix Access to Care Ordinance. According to the City, “it’s a plan to stabilize economic vitality in the health care industry by creating a new funding source to help cover the costs of the uninsured.”

“Yes, it’s a little out of the ordinary that the City would be getting into health care, but my attitude is, if I can support good quality jobs, if I can support access to care for people in my city, it’s a no-brainer and I’m going to lead the way, said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton.

According to information provided by the city, “The Phoenix Access to Care Ordinance, a measure that would assess Phoenix hospitals, would draw down a 2-to-1 match of federal dollars. The funding then would be transferred to the Arizona Heath Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) to pay in part for uncompensated care for low income and uninsured patients.”

City officials said that other states have implemented similar programs, and it is critical that Arizona follow suit in order to stay competitive.

“Due to the impact of the recession on the state’s budget and unemployment, hospitals across Arizona have endured a sharp spike of more than $540 million in uncompensated costs due to an increased number of uninsured individuals flooding hospital emergency departments,” said city officials.

The ordinance will undergo a 60-day approval process that began Oct. 4, with the city council likely to take formal action at its Dec. 5 meeting.

Public hearings will be held.