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Medicaid expansion to help struggling Arizona medical centers

PHOENIX -- The expansion of Medicaid is a financial shot in the arm to Arizona medical centers that were struggling to survive.

At Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix, 25 percent of the patients in the emergency room had no insurance. Up to 50 percent of visitors to its 11 clinics were in the same situation. The medical center footed the bill.

"We're talking about $120 million a year up," said Betsey Bayless, who heads up Maricopa Integrated Health Systems.

Bayless said providing Medicaid to an additional 300,000 Arizonans will hopefully push people back toward primary care doctors and clinics instead of using the emergency room. But that comes with a challenge.

"If you have that many more people covered by Medicaid we're going to need the primary care providers, family medicine doctors, nurses, and so forth," she said.

Bayless is a former Arizona Secretary of State and said Gov. Jan Brewer did the right thing by pushing for Medicaid expansion. "She carried the day."

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About the Author


Position: Senior News Reporter. Started with KTAR July 4, 1999.

Favorite spots in Arizona: Pinetop-Lakeside, Alpine, Greer.

Have covered some of the biggest stories in Arizona including nine of the top 10 largest wildfires in state history. The Wallow Fire in 2011 became the largest fire in state history. Rodeo-Chediski Fire in June 2002, which is the second largest fire in Arizona. Covered the Yarnell Hill Tragedy in June 2013 that left 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots dead.

Favorite movies: True Grit, both 1969 John Wayne classic and the remake with Jeff Bridges and Lonesome Dove.

Sports Teams: Washington State University Cougars, Texas Longhorns, The University of Montana Grizzlies.

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