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Even Without Repeal, Arizona ACA Marketplace Could Be At Risk

(Photo by Sky Schaudt - KJZZ)
Arizonans can select coverage using healthcare.gov.

Even if Congress doesn’t repeal the Affordable Care Act, Arizona’s insurance marketplace could look much worse if President Donald Trump follows through on his threat to let the law fail.

It’s still unclear whether Congress will pass its own health-care law or not. But in the meantime, the Trump administration must take some key steps to keep the ACA’s marketplaces afloat, especially in states like Arizona. Chief among those — funding the so-called cost sharing subsidies that help offset high deductibles and co-pays and enforcing the individual mandate.

"We need to get lots of healthy young people to contribute to the market," said Swapna Reddy, a professor of health policy at Arizona State University. “In order to stabilize the market, not only do we need to keep the numbers where they are now but we really need to increase the numbers."

Reddy said the mandate and keeping premiums down are the best ways to accomplish that.

Last year, Arizona’s marketplace saw triple-digit premium increases and more insurers leaving the market. It’s not public yet how much insurers will raise rates for plans beginning in 2018, but the same two carriers —  Blue Cross Blue Shield and Centene — have said they intend to stay.

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.