9OYS Health Watch
TMC helps, reminds people to reenroll in AHCCCS
135,000 people will lose coverage because of enrollment freeze
Reporter: Claire Doan
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) – More than a hundred thousand Arizonans are expected to lose their Medicaid coverage this year, after lawmakers to implemented an enrollment freeze on the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), the state’s Medicaid program, to help balance the budget.
Childless adults who are below the poverty level and currently on AHCCCS may renew their coverage, but the state will not accept new applications or provide coverage for those who forget to reenroll.
Tucson Medical Center (TMC) is hoping to stem the tide of people allowing a lapse in coverage with a workshop, by reminding them to reapply and providing experts to guide them through the often confusing process.
“Once they’re no long enrolled, it’s much more difficult to get healthcare. There are doctors who can’t see you. There are no emergency rooms that won’t see you, but you won’t get care until you get to an emergency room,” said Peter Hawkins, a supervisor at TMC. “It’s important for the individual and the community to try to keep that enlistment as long as possible.”
People who attended the TMC workshop Saturday morning said they were glad they received assistance and support to get AHCCCS coverage.
“I’m very worried. If you don’t have insurance, you’re out of luck,” said a man named Brian, who didn’t want to provide his last name. “I’m trying to find out what I can do to save my AHCCCS.”
Daniel Diaz, nother AHCCCS applicant, said health coverage is crucial, especially in this tough economy: “It’s important to have it because when you need it, it’s there. And you’ll never know when you need it.”
The enrollment freeze won’t just impact individual patients; hospitals like TMC are also bracing for more emergency room visits – from those who without AHCCCS will receive less preventative care, and will more likely suffer from more medical complications. Those who are sick will also find it challenging to get private health insurance coverage, given their pre-existing symptoms.
“We do expect an increase in emergency visits in all the hospitals across Arizona,” Hawkins said. “Part of increased emergency visits results in reduced revenue for the hospital and we’re bracing and preparing for that. But a way to alleviate that is to make sure people will keep their coverage.”
TMC will have another workshop on Saturday, August 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Pima Conference near the TMC Southeast Entrance. No appointment is needed; help will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
For more information, go to the website Don't Get Dropped AZ.