Rep. Heather Carter espouses three intertwined ideas regularly: the importance of health care for Arizona’s economy, the need for a strong education system, and the symbiotic relationship between those two sectors.
“Health care is going to be the economic engine of the future of Arizona,” Carter said during a recent panel presented by the Arthritis Foundation. “We want to turn our economy around? Health care in Arizona was one of the few Industry sectors that actually sustained, if not increased, during the economic downturn.”
Banner Health is the state’s largest private employer with more than 38,000 employees in 2015, an increase of more than 8,000 in just one year. Hospitals alone employ more than 80,000 people and contribute heavily to the gross state product.
Despite the growth of the health care industry and increase in Arizona’s population, the state still has a shortage of physicians, partially due to lack of residency positions for medical graduates.
“We train students in Arizona in our state schools that are built and paid for by our tax payers then we have to ship them to another state to get their training,” Carter said. “Then they rarely come back. It’s extremely cost ineffective to not be able to train them where they’re educated.”
Because there is no state money going towards training doctors right now, Carter encourages the business community to reach out to legislators regarding the issue of medical residency.
“Even just the idea that they could come to the Capitol and educate members on this issue is huge. It’s going to take dollars and resources.”
Increasing the number of physicians in the state would benefit health care consumers and help with economic growth. When businesses are looking to relocate or expand, health care and education are at the forefront of conversations, Carter explained.
“If you want to attract a top executive, they’re going to ask what the schools are like, what the health care is like.”
Strengthening Arizona’s health care sector isn’t just smart business; it benefits the community as a whole.
“We want to make this place a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire. We can do this with the help of health care because it is truly an economic engine,” Carter said. “It’s not just about us being able to go to the doctor. It’s about high paying quality jobs that people stay in for long periods of time.
-written by Carolina Lopez, digital marketing administrator.