- Associated Press - Monday, September 18, 2017

PHOENIX (AP) - Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Monday came out in support of the latest Republican effort to repeal former President Barack Obama’s health law and urged Congress to act under rules allowing a bare majority to replace the law.

Ducey issued a statement saying the proposal known as Graham-Cassidy “is the best path forward to repeal and replace Obamacare.” He said he’d continue to push for more flexibility for states that are included in the proposal.

“Congress has 12 days to say ‘yes’ to Graham-Cassidy,” Ducey said, referring to a deadline for passing a bill without 60 votes. “It’s time for them to get the job done.”

The proposal would end the Medicaid expansion part of Obama’s law that has added about 400,000 Arizonans to the state’s health insurance program for the poor. It would replace Medicaid funding that now covers 1.9 million Arizonans and also eliminate tax subsidies that help lower-income people buy private insurance, replacing the funding with block grants to states.

The Congressional Budget Office announced Monday that it needs several weeks to do an analysis of the proposal’s impact on premiums, insurance coverage or premiums. Ducey told reporters Thursday that he didn’t know how it would affect Arizona.

“We’re crunching those numbers,” he said. “I’ve not been communicated those numbers yet.”

A version of a repeal bill rejected by the Senate in July failed in part because it would cost 22 million Americans their health insurance by 2026. Without a CBO score, it remains unclear what the official estimate of the loss would be for Graham-Cassidy.

But an analysis by the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows it will cost Arizona at least $1.6 billion in 2026 alone from cuts to Medicaid and to insurance subsidies. The state’s Medicaid plan currently gets about $8.5 billion a year in federal funding, according to its July report to the Legislature.

Besides the Medicaid cuts, more than 85 percent of the approximately 140,000 Arizonans who had bought plans on the individual marketplace in Arizona as of March 1 get tax subsidies to help pay for their premiums.

Democrats came out sharply opposed to the plan, saying it is “just as bad, if not worse, than all the other Republican health care repeal plans.

“This bill guts Medicaid, cuts crucial funding all across the country and makes it more expensive for seniors, people with disabilities, and families with children to access quality health care,” said Vedant Patel, spokesman for the Democratic National Committee.

Ducey has been deeply involved in the new plan. He met with Louisiana Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy and other Republican governors in late July to help craft it. Before Monday, he repeatedly refused to say what he was negotiating for.

State Sen. Steve Farley, a Democrat who is seeking his party’s nomination to challenge Ducey next year, slammed the proposal.

“I can think of 1.6 billion reasons why Governor Ducey is flat-out wrong, and that is just the damage to our Arizona health care system in dollar figures,” Farley said in a statement. “The harm to individual Arizonans and our hospitals is still unknown.”

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