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1/17/2014 8:48:00 AM
State lawmakers, White House tout Tucsonan as Obamacare success
Despite Democrats’ claims of improvement, U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Prescott, insisted that the Affordable Care Act is still a “complete disaster.” (Cronkite News Service photo by Emilie Eaton)
Despite Democrats’ claims of improvement, U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Prescott, insisted that the Affordable Care Act is still a “complete disaster.” (Cronkite News Service photo by Emilie Eaton)
State Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix, said millions of people like Tucson resident Sue Voelker had difficulties getting health insurance because of pre-existing condition but that Obamacare is changing that. (Cronkite News Service photo by Nathasha Khan)
State Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix, said millions of people like Tucson resident Sue Voelker had difficulties getting health insurance because of pre-existing condition but that Obamacare is changing that. (Cronkite News Service photo by Nathasha Khan)
Cronkite News Service

WASHINGTON - Laid off and with a pre-existing medical condition, Tucson resident Sue Voelker said it was a struggle to get health insurance - until the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

Voelker, on a conference call Tuesday with state Democrats and a White House official, said that under "Obamacare" she was able to sign up for a Gold Plan policy at the same price as lesser coverage that had previously been offered to her, and that it has not limited her on the doctors she can see.

"I have a lot of doctors," said Voelker, an information technology consultant who suffers from Marfan's syndrome. "It's the same group (of doctors) I have been going through."

Voelker's success in getting registered in a red state like Arizona was held out by the Democrats as an emblem of the progress made under Obamacare at the end of 2013. Voelker was joined on the call by state Sen. Anna Tovar, D-Tolleson, state Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix, and David Simas, a deputy advisor at the White House.

Simas said national healthcare enrollment in December was more than 1.8 million, nearly five times the enrollment in October and November combined.' Arizona had more than 9,000 people sign up in December.

But where Democrats saw gains, at least one Republican congressman from the state said the numbers were nothing to brag about.

"Arizona's population is more than 6.5 million, yet a measly 28,000 Arizonans purchased health care plans on the exchange" since it began in October, said Rep. Paul Gosar,R-Prescott in an emailed statement.

The statement noted that 36 percent of the Arizona enrollees are between 55 and 64 years old, and that the program needs more younger people to keep health insurance premiums from rising further. Gosar pointed to a Prescott woman who testified to a House committee that her monthly premiums rose $800 under the act, which she feared might force the family to sell its home and cars to make ends meet.

"This law us a complete disaster, which must be repealed and replaced with a free-market, patient-centered alternative," Gosar said in his statement.

Simas conceded that just one in three Arizonans enrolled so far is under age 35. But he said a strategy of "constant outreach, repetition and engagement" has started to bear fruit, noting that there have now been 11 million phone calls and 53 million visits to the health care website.

Simas also pointed to efforts to boost youth enrollment in the program by getting as many athletes and celebrities as possible to endorse enrollment. He said Feb. 15 has been designated National Youth Enrollment day in hopes of gaining massive sign-ups.

Tovar, a cancer survivor, said she was elated to be in Washington for the passage of the health care act, saying it could give all Arizonans the opportunity for health care that she had.

Gallego also emphasized that before the passage of the ACA nearly 129 million Americans had their health care coverage threatened due to a pre-existing condition - people like Voelker and her Marfan's, a genetic disorder that affects connective tissue. The act has changed that, Simas said.

"Every person in Arizona who wants coverage will be able to sign up for that coverage," he said. "It is not about Democrats or Republicans. 'It is not about the Washington debates. 'It is about making sure everyone in Arizona gets affordable care."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, January 17, 2014
Article comment by: Slater Slater

You thought Healtcare was expensive? Wait
till next year.You ain't seen nothin yet.
Free medicare expansion (nothins Free) next
year you'll get it when they make you pay or
sign over your medicare .
Just kiddin,they'd never try that one.

Posted: Friday, January 17, 2014
Article comment by: This Story From Cronkite News Service...

lacks adequate info to make any sense. For
instance, the story indicates a woman in
Arizona will have to loose her home and car
in order to buy ObamCare.

Ain't that odd...before ObamaCare become
law many folks were loosing their homes to
pay for actual medical care. And now some
folks are saying to pay for ObamaCare they
will loose their home.


Posted: Friday, January 17, 2014
Article comment by: Better believe it

Oh how I wish this all this Obamacare stuff were not true. You better believe I thoroughly researched this.

I'm currently paying $359/month with BCBS. That plan was cancelled and replaced with one costing $1,257/month. I was flabbergasted. I told them there must be some mistake. Nope, no mistake.

That's because the new Obamacare-compliant plan is larded up with things I'll never use, like pediatric dentistry, birth control pills, and maternity coverage.

So I checked healthcare.gov (30+ tries to get through) and best price is $997/month for a worse plan than I have now. A comparable plan is even more.

Fortunately the president graciously allowed BCBS to extend my plan for one more year. Then it hits the fan.

Affordable? Nonsense. This is pathetic. Gee thanks Obamacare!

Posted: Friday, January 17, 2014
Article comment by: @ glad it helped -

Are you sure of your numbers...really sure? All too often i have heard people claim that it is going to cost them thousands and be the doom of their world only to find out they have not even visited the site and actually looked at the cost.

Even without qualifying for any subsidies we were able to get a plan (yes actually getting insurance is amazing if you have a pre-existing and could not get it before) that was very reasonable and offered great coverage.

Before you go stating numbers it would be nice to know they exist in reality an are not based upon mis/dis information.

In fact AZ has proven to have some of the lowest rates in the country.

A plan that covered me and my daughter ranged from $300 for a 60% coverage plan to $550 for a 90% coverage plan.

Without some facts like how many you are covering it's impossible to lend your comment any credence.

All you need to tell us is how many, what age and how many smoke. Pretty simple and it might surprise you. We wait with eyes eager for the truth.

Posted: Thursday, January 16, 2014
Article comment by: Glad it helped one person

Glad to hear Obamacare helped at least one person. It doesn't help me.

My health insurance costs stand to increase some $12,000-15,000 next year. Gee thanks Obamacare!

Gosar has it right. Let free market competition go to work on this to make it actually affordable.

Posted: Thursday, January 16, 2014
Article comment by: If it is so bad how is it that Gosar only found 4 'horror stories' to showcase at hearings?

That is correct folks, Gosar found 4... and that was after reaching out to folks via his social media etc.

Those 4 testified at a hearings held down in casa grande a while back... while many many more in support were refused a chance to offer support or speak in any fashion.

At this point Emperor Gosar has no clothes, his alternative is the same rehashed dribble that the Tea-OP has been calling their "plan" for years now as they wasted our tax dollars paying themselves to repeal the PP-ACA over 40 times.

As time passes and we get more success stories perhaps MR. Gosar will adjust his position to suit reality rather than ignoring it.

One last time, he went looking and found 4 people out of 6.5 million that did not like or understand the PP-ACA, should those 4 be the reason we deny thousands or millions of others the chance to get coverage and the personal responsibility of getting coverage?

Perhaps Mr. Gosar forgot to pack his common sense in the carpet bag when he moved to Prescott in order to get re-elected?

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