Saturday, April 18, 2015

Arizona in the news: crAZy poised to get sicker and poorer

Here is a gem from Ezra Klein at

Arizona just passed a bizarre new anti-Obamacare law that, in effect, promises to let the Supreme Court wreck the state's health-care system. It's a microcosm of the strange strategy Republicans have adopted against the law: a strategy that's leaving red states poorer and sicker.

The backstory in Arizona is the King v. Burwell case, which holds that federal subsidies are illegal in states that didn't set up their own insurance marketplaces — states like Arizona. If the Supreme Court rules for the plaintiffs, those states, including Arizona, will lose their subsidies.

That would be a disaster for those states. As Sarah Kliff writes, "Approximately 205,000 Arizonans are receiving coverage through the marketplace. Of those, 76 percent are receiving subsidies to help cover the cost of their premiums. An adverse ruling would likely lead the state's exchange to collapse, as healthy, young Arizonans who could only afford insurance because of the subsidies pull out and the exchange itself enters into a death spiral."

What Arizona has promised to do is let that happen. This is a promise it had no need to make: it could wait for the Court's ruling and then decide its response. But Arizona was so desperate to show its loathing of Obamacare that it wanted to go on the record early. And the way it did that is by closing off the easiest avenue available for fixing its insurance market.

This was a decision made, of course, by legislators and a governor who have insurance now, and will have it in the event of an adverse Supreme Court ruling. What will happen to the hundreds of thousands of Arizonans relying on Obamacare for their insurance is less clear.

Klein is referring to the signing of HB2643 by Il Duce forbidding the state from having anything to do with federal health care insurance exchanges. Klein provides good background on the legal case before SCOTUS.

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