Last year, CHAS Health provided medical services to more than 65,000 low-income residents in the greater Spokane area.
Since Obamacare took effect, the number of CHAS patients without health insurance has dropped from 40 percent to 8 percent.
“We’ve been able to grow our services, see a lot more folks and provide them with more primary care and preventive services,” said Aaron Wilson, CEO for the nonprofit, federally qualified health center.
The number of CHAS patients increased by 50 percent, and CHAS has hired 150 more employees and opened new clinics to serve them, he said.
Many of those gains would disappear under the proposed GOP replacement for the Affordable Care Act, Wilson said Monday.
Starting in 2020, the GOP proposal would phase out the additional federal money that helped Washington and other states expand health coverage through Medicaid to low-income adults. The change is expected to increase the number of uninsured U.S. residents by 21 million in 2020, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
About 70 percent of CHAS’ patients get their health insurance through Medicaid. Without that insurance, people are reluctant to come in for treatment unless they have a major health issue, Wilson said.
Wilson said if there is a replacement for Medicaid expansion in the GOP plan, “I have not been able to identify what it is.”
Wilson spent part of Monday morning on the phone with U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ office, talking about how the GOP proposal would impact CHAS and its clients.
CHAS’ long-term goal is to be financially stable, providing part of the “local safety net” for low-income families, Wilson said. But the current GOP proposal would require CHAS to cut back services and employees.
Reducing the number of people with health insurance will affect Spokane’s economy as a whole, he said.
“We are reliant on health care as an economic driver,” Wilson said.
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