What They’re Watching: Greg Vigdor on Medicaid expansion in Arizona

Greg Vigdor is the former President and CEO of the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association. Vigdor served in his role for six years and recently announced his retirement. He joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to talk about Medicaid expansion in Arizona and other takeaways from his time at AzHHA.

“Some of the things I’ve taken away in the six years I’ve been here — it really is around Medicaid more than anything else.

The first job I had when I got here was to engage on Medicaid expansion — Medicaid restoration, as we call it — and try to get it passed, the first one to pass it in a Republican state. And, it was getting it passed, and then it was defending it from court challenges, from state legislative challenges, from federal rule repeal-and-replace efforts.

So, most of the energy has really gone around trying to make sure Medicaid was available. And, it was such an important part of coverage and the health care system in this state. I think, more so than many other states, it’s just sort of the essential building block.

Upon that, there’s been a number of other innovations coming from, in large part, the Medicaid agency, which is really the, I’d say, the leader in terms of policy framing in this state around behavioral health and some efforts there, but also around interesting things like the Health Information Exchange. That is actually getting traction in Arizona, because the Medicaid agency said, ‘You have to play, if you want to participate in the Medicaid program.’

These are some of the core things. Meanwhile, I think there has been a lot of work to try to make sure that health care itself — within the system, my world of providers — is more stable than it was, certainly, back in the Great Recession, where the entire economy in Arizona but, I’d say, in particular the health care sector, was really struggling to even survive.”