Arizonans Say Congress Needs to Do More to Rein In Health Costs
Wednesday, August 3, 2022
Congress is considering a major legislative package that could affect not only investments in climate change but also the affordability of health care. Health-care advocates say it comes not a moment too soon.
One study found that from 1970 to 2020, the average American's health-care costs rose from $1,875 a year to more than $12,500.
Jim Manley, a board member of Consumers for Quality Care, said the main concern is that out-of-pocket costs are too high, according to the group's new poll. He says Arizonans agree they're getting squeezed by health-care costs.
"High deductibles, rising out-of-pocket costs and unpaid medical bills are plaguing American health-care consumers," he said, "with 75% of Arizona voters agreeing that the costs of health care are going up more than other things that they need."
The poll, by Impact Research, found that three out of four American voters believe insurance companies are "nickel-and-diming" their household budgets with out-of-pocket costs.
The U.S. Senate could vote on the package, known as the Inflation Reduction Act, by the end of the week.
Last week, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., agreed on a bill that allows Medicare to negotiate some drug prices and caps out-of-pocket prescription-drug costs.
Tammy Caputi, a City Council member in Scottsdale, said medical debt is forcing many Arizonans, including her constituents, to cut spending on food and other essentials. She said some even lose their homes or are driven into bankruptcy.
"The general consensus," she said, "is that Congress should cap insurance deductibles, the prescription drug copays and all those other out-of-pocket maximums, to a point that people don't need to skip their care and go into medical debt."
Since no Republicans plan to vote for the bill, Senate Democrats say they'll pass it under the budget reconciliation process but must have all 50 members of their caucus and the vice president vote yes to do so. Passage could hinge on Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., who has yet to reveal how she plans to vote.
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