Utahns React To CBO Score Of Republican Health Care Legislation | KUER 90.1

Utahns React To CBO Score Of Republican Health Care Legislation

May 26, 2017

This week the Congressional Budget Office released its analysis of the Republican health care bill known as American Health Care Act. KUER looked into what the CBO score could mean for Utahns.

In very simple terms, the CBO predicts that the Republican healthcare bill will reduce federal deficits by $119 billion over the next decade. At the same time, the report says 23 million fewer Americans will be insured.

Brian Shiozawa is a Republican state Senator and an emergency room doctor in Utah. He says the CBO score is hopeful in that many Utahns would end up having lower premiums than they do right now. But, he worries about more cuts to Utah’s Medicaid program, the healthcare coverage for the most vulnerable.

"If we lose more money in that, how are we going to continue to fund these particular individuals, because their healthcare has got to get cared for somewhere," Shiozawa says. 

Lately, he says, he’s seen more people coming to the ER with substance abuse and mental health problems.

Under the AHCA, states would get more flexibility to address their own healthcare needs. But Jason Stevenson with the Utah Health Policy Project says the money budgeted for states to do that is to too small.

"History shows us that this level of funding, which is pretty low, is not enough and that state budgets are going to be under severe stress based on this healthcare reform that they’re pursuing," Stevenson says. 

Shiozawa is looking forward to the state flexibility the AHCA would bring.

"I’d love to have a crack at taking a reasonable amount of Medicaid funding and adapt it to our Medicaid population here and address certain specific needs and look at essential benefits, and tailoring those to our population," he says. 

But, he says, no matter how efficient a state can be, with less funding they can only do so much.