What Will Repeal Of Obamacare Mean For Women In Arizona?

Published: Wednesday, January 18, 2017 - 4:36pm
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(Photo by Lauren Gilger - KJZZ)
Dr. Dean Coonrod, department chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Maricopa Integrated Health System.

When the Affordable Care Act — also known as the ACA or Obamacare — went into effect in 2010, health care changed dramatically for many women in this country.

From prenatal and maternity care, to coverage of contraception and cancer screenings, the ACA meant many women were covered in ways they had not been before. And, the likely repeal of the health-care act has many advocates worried they may lose access to the care the law enabled.

In the days leading up to the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, and the Women’s Marches scheduled to take place across the country the following day, The Show is bringing you conversations on issues that affect women in particular, and that may change when the new administration takes office.

The Show’s Lauren Gilger spoke with Bre Thomas, CEO of the Arizona Family Health Partnership, about the effect the impending repeal of the ACA could have on women.

The ACA allowed for things like mammograms and screening for cervical cancer and sexually transmitted diseases to be covered. And, prenatal and maternal care are considered preventative care under the law, so they’re also covered. The ACA also covers contraceptives for women.

Thomas said that having access to these kinds of services has had far-reaching effects in Arizona.

“We’ve seen a significant drop in teen pregnancy rates, we’ve seen a drop in unintended pregnancy rates, we’ve seen a drop in abortion rates,” she said. “And those rates have been decreasing because women have had access to highly effective forms of birth control, which are expensive, as well as just regular forms of birth control, as well as well-women visits.”

But, in Arizona, there are only a few providers left who offer plans through the health-care exchange and costs have gone up significantly. But Thomas believes that whatever the law may be replaced with, covering these preventative services for women will save money in the long run.

“Prevention is cheaper than dealing with the diagnosis down the road and so I think there will be increased health-care costs if we don’t continue these preventative health measures,” she said. “And so, if the ACA is repealed in its entirety, and replaced with something, I hope that they would consider looking at the women’s preventative health services and coverage for that, I think it saves money in the long run.”

Gilger also spoke with Dr. Dean Coonrod, department chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Maricopa Integrated Health System, the safety-net hospital in the state, about these potential affects on women.

He said that before the ACA was implemented, just being a woman could be considered a pre-existing condition that could boost the cost of your health care. But, when the law went into place — when there were more providers on the market and it was more affordable — he saw a big change.

In the player above, you can listen to that conversation.

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