A plan to cut $800 million next fiscal year from state programs providing health care would cost tens of thousands of jobs, and the losses would extend far beyond those in the health care field, business leaders said Feb. 24.
“The impact on the economy is a real one,” said Glenn Hamer, president and CEO of the Arizona State Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Hamer and others held a news conference outside the State Capitol to criticize plans for cuts to the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System and the Arizona Department of Health Services.
They pointed to an analysis by Matt Croucher and Tim James, researchers with Arizona State University, that calculated the ultimate loss to Arizona’s economy at about $2.7 billion. This figure accounts for a loss of federal stimulus matching funds as well.
The report estimated that the proposed cuts would lead to the loss of 42,000 jobs in the fiscal year beginning in July, with retail trade, construction and professional and technical services joining the health care and social assistance sectors in losing large numbers of jobs.
“This is going to drive people out of our state,” James said. “There will be less economic opportunities, which will have a negative multiplier effect. Every sector will be negatively impacted.”
John R. Rivers, president and CEO of Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association, said the cuts would harm hospitals, which employ more than 80,000 people, decreasing the level of health care available to the general public. That would make the state less attractive to companies that otherwise would consider relocating here, he said.
“In this case, the cure is worse than the disease,” he said.
“The outlook is not pretty,” said Jerry Boehm, director of operations for the Arizona Council of Human Service Providers. “People will not be able to get care, we will overload emergency rooms and people will choose to move away. For corporations, think about long-term health. The state will not be attractive.”