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Advocates For Latino Community Speak Out Against ACA Repeal

Rep. Ruben Gallego speaks at the NCLR conference in Phoenix.
(Photo by Will Stone - KJZZ)
Rep. Ruben Gallego speaks at the NCLR conference in Phoenix.

The Senate replacement for the Affordable Care Act would have a particularly devastating impact on the Latino community. That was the message coming from leaders of several national advocacy groups in Phoenix on Monday.

The Latino community gained a lot under the ACA. Since 2010, the uninsured rate for adults dropped from 40 percent to nearly 25 percent. That’s the largest decline of any demographic group. More Latino children are insured since the ACA took effect than ever before, too. That’s why the Senate bill — the Better Care Reconciliation Act — is so worrying to those representing that population. It would cut hundreds of billions of dollars from the program and cap how much the federal government pays.

“The fundamental changes to the financing mechanism would decimate the Medicaid program and again end it as we know it,” said Stephen Lopez with the National Council of La Raza. “We have been championing and calling on our elected officials to protect Medicaid, to maintain the current structure and strengthen it.”

On Monday, Rep. Ruben Gallego joined leaders of advocacy groups at the NCLR conference in Phoenix to denounce the legislation. The Arizona congressman said a repeal of the Affordable Care Act could have far-reaching consequences for the state. Gallego said he won’t support anything that reduces coverage and cautions that the bill would phase out Medicaid expansion in the state.

“The days of Arizona cutting taxes and cutting taxes for the wealthy and for corporations are going to be gone if you cannot balance the budget,” Gallego said. “We do not have the capability as a state to balance the budget without Medicaid expansion.”

In Arizona, close to 1 million Latinos are on Medicaid, and another 35,000 are enrolled in the Marketplace.

To hear an interview with KJZZ's Will Stone on The Show, click here.

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Will Stone grew up with the sounds of public radio. As a senior field correspondent, he strives to tell the same kind of powerful stories that got him into the business — whether that means trudging through some distant corner of the Sonoran Desert or uncovering an unknown injustice right down the street. Since joining the KJZZ newsroom in 2015, he has covered political scandals, fights over the future of energy, and efforts to care for some of Arizona’s most vulnerable communities. His pieces have also aired on national programs like Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here & Now and Marketplace. Before coming to KJZZ, he reported for public radio stations in Nevada and Connecticut. Stone received his degree in English literature from Haverford College, where he also wrote about the arts and culture scene in Philadelphia. After graduating, he interned at NPR West in Culver City, California, where he learned from some of the network’s veteran reporters and editors. When he doesn’t have a mic in hand, Stone enjoys climbing mountains, running through his central Phoenix neighborhood and shamelessly promoting his cat, Barry.