Health care is one of the most complex issues of our times. For the LGBTQ+ community as for all Arizonans, lowering costs, increasing access, and expanding coverage is of paramount importance. That is why the myriad proposals that seek to undermine our current health care system under the Affordable Care Act has many members of the Greater Phoenix Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce so concerned.
While the intentions behind proposals such as Medicare for All or the public option may be good, the impact that these government-controlled programs would have on access, quality, and affordability would be detrimental. This is especially true for rural Arizonans, with one study indicating that even the introduction of a public option could put more than 1,000 rural hospitals nationwide at a “high risk of closure.” For communities already suffering from lack of access, this would be devastating.
Access to care is vital for both the LGBTQ+ community as well as in the broader fight against AIDS and HIV. To ensure patients have linkage to the vital services and treatments they need, we must have a robust, talented health care workforce. Yet Medicare for All would threaten the future of that workforce. According to another study, the reimbursement cuts associated with that proposal could result in 90 percent of hospitals nationwide running consistent deficits, which would increase the risk of hospital closures even further, cutting off access for at-risk patients.
There is no question that lawmakers at every level of government need to work together to pass meaningful reforms that lower costs and increase access to care. However, government-controlled proposals like Medicare for All and the public option are not the right fit and could only worsen access issues for the LGBTQ+ community and all Arizonans.
By Deanna Jordan, Executive Director, Greater Phoenix Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.