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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Cutting preventative care a big mistake

The state of Arizona fails to realize preventative care, like flossing, is the kind of pain in the ass you put up with to avoid a bigger pain later. Funnily enough, dental care is also among a list of several Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System benefits that were cut this month because of the agency’s lack of funding.

As a response to Arizona’s budget calamity and significant growth in the number of people enrolled, the AHCCCS slashed its budget by reducing benefits it offers to people 21 and older. The cuts went into effect on Oct. 1.

To qualify for AHCCCS, a person cannot earn more than $10,830 a year, less than the federal poverty level.

Now, without coverage for preventative exams, about 640,000 people must pay out of their own pockets for “”well visits,”” which are exams without specific medical complaints, like physical check-ups and annual gynecological exams

for women.

AHCCCS estimates the cuts to preventative care will save Arizona $2.8 million annually, beginning in fiscal 2011. But, as is often the case with solutions for Arizona’s issues, the fix is a short-term one that fails to account for its long-term consequences.

The cuts affect visits to the doctor, not screening tests. AHCCCS still covers tests such as mammograms, colonoscopies and pap smears. But without the well visits, screening tests must be performed without the patient-doctor consultation beforehand.

To cover a well visit, patients must wait for (or make up) a specific medical problem to have a visit to the doctor covered through AHCCCS, get a test referral from a doctor or have tests done during a family-planning visit instead. Regardless, the cuts reduce the comprehensiveness of medical exams for more than 600,000 people, especially women.

President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona Bryan Howard called the cuts “”short-sighted.”” He told the Arizona Republic that there are 363,332 women over 21 years old on AHCCCS who may be significantly impacted by the cuts.

With the elimination of covered annual well visits, there is a fear women will fail to have their regular screening tests done, even though women are instructed to have tests on a regular basis. Cervical pre-cancer has no symptoms and therefore is most often caught through annual screenings. It is also recommended women have regular pelvic exams beginning by age 21, and annual mammograms after age 40.

Chronic diseases, like cardiovascular disease, are also best treated before they have an opportunity to develop, but require monitoring weight,

blood pressure and cholesterol. Furthermore, well visits allow for patient-doctor discussion of nutrition and lifestyle choices that contribute to preventive care.

It has been made completely clear that Arizona must make financial sacrifices. Such sacrifices should not begin with health.

Like fixing a spreading crack in your car’s windshield before it can break altogether or twice-a-day dental hygiene to avoid the dentist’s drill, it’s just better in the long run to suck it up now and avoid more serious problems later. There is nothing complicated about the importance of preventing a problem in order to avoid the hassle of treating it.

— Kristina Bui is a sophomore majoring in journalism and political science. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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