What They’re Watching: Dr. Leonard Kirschner

Dr. Leonard Kirschner, former President of  the Arizona AARP and former State Medicaid Director, joined State of Reform in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss efforts at the state and federal levels to protect the ACA, lower the cost of pharmaceuticals, and expand Medicaid coverage. While this interview was filmed before the COVID-19 pandemic, these issues, particularly concerning the ACA, are top of mind for many with a national election on the horizon.    


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I’m certainly looking right now in Arizona at the state legislature at their budget and a number of really important health care issues that they’re debating. Graduate medical educations, KidsCare, and dental care for pregnant (which has been eliminated) – a very silly, nonproductive approach.

At the federal level, I think we’re finally done with repeal and replace. We’re still fighting the battle but it’s not nearly as loud as it has been. The question has always been, what are you replacing it with? The answer has been, ‘Well we’ll think about that later.” That’s not a good answer. Clearly there are a lot of things in the Affordable Care Act that are really ingrained in the health care system: making sure people with preexisting conditions get coverage, making sure children and young adults up to age 26 get coverage.

Putting my AARP hat on, the next big thing is, stop the greed. Nationally, probably the number one cost issue the American public is talking about is the rising cost of pharmaceuticals. AARP is doing an effort on that locally and nationally. At the state level, and I’m on the state Medicaid Advisory Committee, will be the issue of work requirements for a certain portion of the Medicaid population.”