Rural Arizona Doesn’t Need Surprises on Mental Health Care Access

By Timothy Alan

Each year, I plunge into the wilderness for weeks at a time. The experience is a salve for my mental outlook. “Getting away from it all” is an effective wellness strategy. But it’s important to remember, serious issues like depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and substance abuse disorders do not resolve themselves with a temporary escape.

Treatment is essential. Unfortunately, in rural Arizona, mental health services can be incredibly hard to come by—and sadly, help could soon become even more difficult to access.

That’s because new legislation in Congress could worsen our state’s already severe shortage of mental health professionals. Elected leaders in Washington are moving rapidly on a plan to add price controls to the health care market. The proposal was crafted to relieve families of the risk of large, surprise medical bills for out-of-network health care services, but legislators’ good intentions cannot erase the detrimental consequences they would engender by enacting this law.

Price controls on any market are a recipe for shortages. When applied to food, the result was the bread lines of the former Soviet Union. When used on medicines, price controls contributed to the violent upheavals in Venezuela. If we add price controls to America’s health care system, including many behavioral health services, similar outcomes will follow.

This is unacceptable. Already more than 2.8 million Arizonans live in areas with too few mental health professionals. Our state is meeting less than 12 percent of the existing need for behavioral health services and would require nearly 200 more practitioners to catch up.[1] We won’t attract them if we have price controls.

I deliver wilderness-based therapeutic care for troubled teens and youth, and I can tell you, most of my clients with mental health challenges struggle to get help. A lack of psychiatrists and other providers is a problem we share with small towns, frontier regions, and remote communities across the nation, and it is putting our children in jeopardy. In fact, the suicide rate for young people in rural areas is almost twice as high as in urban regions.[2]

Without sufficient mental health experts, rural hospitals and clinics cannot provide life-saving emergency and inpatient psychiatric care for patients in imminent danger. And because the prognosis for mental illness improves with early treatment, our inability to direct behavioral health services to children, teens, and young adults condemns too many residents to more severe illness than they’d likely have suffered with more timely intervention.

Although my focus is on mental health, the effects of federal price control legislation would extend much farther into the health care system. Rural patients would be less able to access air ambulances to speed them to urgently needed care. The number of specialists, from heart doctors to trauma surgeons, would plummet from already low numbers. Patients would have to travel great distances for care, and non-critical cases would be shunted aside until a patient’s situation reaches crisis levels.

These outcomes are as predictable as they are life-threatening. Price controls never turn out any differently. It’s unclear how our elected leaders stumbled so far off course in their efforts to address health care affordability, but they need to return to their senses and protect—not endanger—Arizonans’ access to care.

Timothy Alan is a behavioral health specialist with ANASAZI.

[1] https://www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/mental-health-care-health-professional-shortage-areas-hpsas/?currentTimeframe=0&selectedRows=%7B%22states%22:%7B%22arizona%22:%7B%7D%7D%7D&sortModel=%7B%22colId%22:%22Location%22,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D

[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2015/03/09/the-suicide-rate-for-young-people-is-much-higher-in-rural-areas/

Vote NO Against Bob Thorpe’s Amendment to HB2269

Rep Bob Thorpe
Rep Bob Thorpe

Arizona State Representative Bob Thorpe has snuck in a bill that would limit who could serve in the Arizona Legislature. The Flagstaff Republican used a strike everything maneuver to scrap a bill that would have provided funding for DPS officers who live in remote areas.

Now the strike everything amendment, HB2269, will impose serious limitations on who can serve in the Arizona Legislature based on “physical domicile residency.”

Thorpe’s “striker” bill states that anyone seeking to serve in the Arizona Legislature must physically be domiciled in the jurisdiction for 75% of the year preceding the filing date to seek the office. In other words, 274 days before a candidate files for the legislature, he/she must be physically living in their address within the district.

This is bad public policy and anyone who holds a decent understanding of constitutional law knows physical domicile requirements are absurd and won’t hold up in court.

Imagine a teacher from Prescott who returns home to Legislative District 1 from an overseas mission trip where she taught English for a year and was able to vote as an overseas registered Prescott voter. Although she has been registered to vote for three plus years and meets the residency requirements to serve, Thorpe’s law would automatically disqualified her to serve in the Legislature.

This bad public policy would disqualify many good and qualified individuals. Here is a brief list of who could be affected:

  • Missionaries
  • Members of the military
  • International NGO Aid workers
  • Airline workers
  • Maritime workers
  • Long haul truckers
  • Border Patrol employees
  • Overseas contractors
  • Wildland Firefighters
  • Exchange students
  • Business travelers
  • Individuals who take extended vacations

The list goes on…

Several years ago, my friend Jonathan Paton ran for the legislature in southern Arizona’s LD-30. Jonathan had also volunteered for the Army Reserves in 1999. In 2006, Uncle Sam finally came calling activating 2nd Lt. Paton for duty to Iraq. He left in August for six months but still won re-election and returned to the Legislature in February, 2007. Leading up to his activation, Jonathan had to prepare and train and that took him outside of his district. The same is the case for many military reservists who balance serving in the military against serving in the legislature.

Last week, Thorpe’s amendment to HB2269 received a do pass recommendation from the Senate Appropriations Committee with a 6-3 vote. Unfortunately, the bill advanced and is scheduled for further action and more votes in the House and Senate.

There is still time to contact your state senator and representatives and tell them to vote against Thorpe’s amendment to HB2269. The legislation is bad policy and it disenfranchises and disqualifies highly qualified people from seeking a seat in the Arizona Legislature.

Call your legislators today and tell them vote NO on Thorpe’s striker amendment to HB2269.

Babies deserve every chance at life!

Stop the shameful repeal of their protection!

The time to stop the latest move by pro-abortion advocates is today. Last week, 17 members of the Arizona House introduced HB 2696. The bill is scheduled for a hearing Wednesday morning.  HB 2696 would repeal lifesaving measures for babies born alive during an abortion attempt, a law that has been on the books for 44 years.

Pro-life lawmakers learned two years ago of real life situations where babies born alive during attempted abortions were left to suffer and die. Legislators took action to strengthen the 1975 law, requiring updated reporting and equipment standards.

Now, some Arizona lawmakers want to do away with the entire law dating back 44 years. This would free abortion providers from their obligation to use all available means and medical skill to save the life of a baby born alive during an abortion attempt.

Please stand with us in protecting babies who survive abortions.

We’ve made it easy for you to contact your legislator and affirm that every baby born alive deserves every chance at life.

Your Representatives will soon have to make a decision on HB 2696!

We need your help! Click here to contact your lawmaker today to voice your opposition to this shameful repeal.

Action Needed:

  1. Click here to contact your two state representatives today. Ask them to oppose the HB 2696 in order to protect women and their babies.
  2. Forward this email to a friend and invite them to also contact their lawmakers.
  3. Pray! Pray that state legislators stop the ratification of the ERA.

Paul Boyer: Tax reform will help Ariz. small businesses, add jobs

Paul BoyerBy Paul Boyer

2018 is an exciting year for Arizona small businesses, which will be able to take advantage of a new 20 percent tax deduction associated with the recently passed federal tax legislation. These savings will not only benefit state small businesses, but employees, job seekers, and communities as well.

Arizona runs on small business. Our state is home to over 500,000 small businesses (defined by the Small Business Administration as employing 500 or fewer), helping employ nearly one million people. And these numbers are not unique to Arizona. Across the country, small businesses account for over 99 percent of all businesses and a net two-thirds of all new private sector jobs.

But despite the invaluable contribution small businesses had on the economy, for far too long, the structure of the old tax system actively worked against growth, with marginal federal rates reaching 40 percent. This over-taxation put small businesses at an inherent disadvantage.

Under the new tax law, a 20 percent deduction is established for all small business income less than $315,000, and non-professional service business income above that threshold. Roughly 95 percent of small businesses earn less than $315,000, meaning the overwhelming majority will benefit from the full 20 percent deduction.

Consider, for example, how this deduction would help an average Arizona small business earning $200,000 a year. This 20 percent deduction would protect $40,000 from federal taxation, freeing up much-needed resources to create jobs and raise wages. I am already hearing from dozens of businesses around the state about their plans to raise wages, hire employees, and expand with their tax savings.

This excess capital in the private economy will fuel economic growth. Contrary to popular belief, business owners will not simply pocket their tax savings. “They will follow the lead of their big business counterparts, hundreds of which, including AT&T, Comcast, and PNC Bank have used their tax savings to give workers bonuses or raise their wages, creating wealthier and more vibrant communities that touch nearly everyone.

We are even seeing specific examples of these savings here in our home state. Arizona’s largest utility, Arizona Public Service Co, announced its intention to reduce consumer bills, citing the lower corporate tax rate as the driving force behind the decision. These collective cuts could reach nearly $120 million, impacting over 25 million customers.

Arizona Public Service is giving the entirety of their tax cut back to customers. For families on a fixed income, these savings are crucial. They are able to live with a stronger sense of financial security thanks to the recent tax bill.

During my time in the Arizona State Legislature, I’ve encountered businesses longing to share their passions with the world. I witnessed humble business ventures transform into leaders of the Arizona business community. From my experience, a tax cut, like the one recently signed into law, would have done wonders in helping get these businesses off the ground. Now new businesses will finally get the relief they’ve needed for so long.

Tax cuts will give small businesses a lot to look forward to this year, meanwhile all Arizonans will reap the benefits.

Republican Paul Boyer, a high-school literature teacher, is chairman of the Arizona House Education Committee and represents Legislative District 20, based in Phoenix and Glendale. Email him at pboyer@azleg.gov

Rep. Andy Biggs: When will we act like the Republicans our constituents expect us to be?

Andy BiggsThe budget caps deal produced by Senate Majority Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Schumer is a fiscal disaster parading as a military support bill. They argue that we need to fully fund the military. I agree. That’s why we sent a bill to the Senate earlier this week that fully funded the military – without adding more than $500 billion to our deficit over the next 18 months, as their plan does.

Further, the House fully funded the military in the budget bills sent to the Senate almost six months ago. The Senate has taken no action on those bills, but keeps forcing short-term spending bills, which even Senator Lindsey Graham agrees, is extremely harmful to our military.

This bad deal is an unconditional surrender on Republican principles and our platform.

If Congress approves the spending package, federal spending will grow by more than 10 percent. As a part of the deal, our nation’s debt limit will be suspended. This means that Congress will spend as much as it can borrow – without limits. Plan on even more national debt ahead.

If we are going to spend more than the credit limits, not to mention more than we bring in on the revenue side each month, we should be enacting serious spending cuts. Spending reductions should not be treated as an afterthought on a massive spending package.

After caving in on spending, the bill actually funds our troops for only another six weeks, until we are forced to consider our sixth spending bill of the fiscal year just a few weeks from now. This is absurd – and irresponsible.

Congress’s pattern of relying on short-term spending bills – on average, more than five times a year for the last 20 years – has brought on a plethora of problems. Our military is subjected to uncertainty in planning and execution of its missions. Our agencies incur the waste of preparing for government shutdowns multiple times each year. The dissipation incurred by failure of the Senate to pass the appropriations bills has also heaped an enormous national debt on this and future generations.

This is nothing short of self-immolation through legislative malfeasance. We are putting our grandchildren in an awful bind. If we cannot pass a budget and reduce the size of government now, we must wonder what kind of America they will see when they grow up. Will it be a thriving, free nation where they can fulfill their greatest aspirations, or will it be a broken and bankrupt country?

Almost six months ago, the House passed twelve appropriations bills and sent them over to the Senate. The Senate has had an opportunity for months to consider these bills and give them an up-or-down vote through regular order. This could have solved our problems. Yet, the other chamber has refused to perform its constitutional responsibility, threatening the financial stability of our military personnel.

Our troops are suffering now due to our lack of courage to pass a financially responsible, long-term budget, and our grandchildren will suffer later due to our propensity to kick the can down the road.

When will we act like the Republicans our constituents expect us to be? When will we cut spending, balance the budget, and eliminate our national debt? The time should be now, but sadly, we are too set in our free-spending, big government ways to change.

I strongly oppose this deal. We must drain the swamp and decrease the size of government. I implore my colleagues to vote against this legislation.

TJ Shope, Frank Pratt Named 2017 Legislative Champions by League of Arizona Cities and Towns

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Speaker Pro Tempore T.J. Shope (R-8) and Senator Frank Pratt (R-8) last week were named 2017 Legislative Champions by the League of Arizona Cities and Towns.

The Legislative Champions award is given to legislators to honor their outstanding public service and dedication to local governance.

“I am honored to be named a 2017 Legislative Champion by the League of Arizona Cities and Towns,” said Speaker Pro Tempore Shope. “Our work together ensures that communities across the state continue to grow into better places to live, work, and play.

“I am thrilled to be honored by the League of Arizona Cities and Towns,” said Senator Pratt. “Their dedication to support city and local leadership at the legislature is an asset to our state.

The League of Arizona Cities and Towns is a membership-based organization comprised of municipalities throughout Arizona and provides a bridge from local cities and towns to the state legislature.

Shope Pratt

TJ Shope & Frank Pratt

Is Illegal Immigration the Fault of President Donald Trump?

by  Sheila K Muehling

Over my lifetime there have always been people entering this country illegally. As a small-town Midwestern kid, I was never affected by anyone coming in and working or living in my hometown. My father was a local contractor and a union member. His men were hired from the union hall and as far as I knew, they were just regular American workers.

Immigrant WorkersOver my lifetime there have always been people entering this country illegally. As a small-town Midwestern kid, I was never affected by anyone coming in and working or living in my hometown. My father was a local contractor and a union member. His men were hired from the union hall and as far as I knew, they were just regular American workers.

As a young adult living in Chicago I still was not affected by illegal immigrants. We had large Polish communities, Hispanic communities, Little Italy, the Chinese community and most of the Southside of Chicago was the Black community. I hired men and women who lived all over the city and unless they did a poor job, they worked and got paid along with everyone else. If they were a payroll employee, they never received cash and they always paid their taxes.

When President Reagan passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986,   my support was with the President.  As a person who ran a business in the construction industry I knew many of my sub-contractors hired workers who were illegal. Because they were not my employees I didn’t worry about it.  Once the law passed I was happy to share the information with anyone who was not legal and help them to complete the paperwork to become citizens. I made a big deal of the new law and to my surprise some of my own employees secretly took advantage of the IRCA. Only after they became citizens and obtained a social security number of their own did I realize how many were illegal and using a false or stolen social security card.

After the law was passed the problem was that many throughout the country did not take the opportunity to become citizens.  Thousands stayed in the shadow from fear of the government but more importantly, many didn’t come forward because they didn’t want to pay taxes.  The fact was most of the sub-contractors I hired used illegals as cheaper labor. Not because they paid them lower hourly pay, but because they didn’t have to match the Medicare and Social Security taxes, and they didn’t have to pay unemployment or union dues. When the law passed many of those companies made the effort to get all of their people to come forward but I remember that many who would work on my jobs suddenly disappeared.

After the IRCA the government promised to fix the border issues but we all know that did not happen. People continued to hire illegal immigrants. Women loved having them clean their houses and keep their yards manicured. Many became nannies and many worked in eldercare. The farmers wanted them to pick the crops, the builders wanted them to clean up job sites and haul materials. My experience was most Americans hired Hispanic workers because they are hardworking and respectful not because they were cheap. I knew people who considered their domestic help part of the family.  But no matter how much Americans loved the illegals they were in the long run still illegal and the problem became bigger and bigger. Sooner or later it had to break.

I am a strong supporter of President Trump and I am proud to be standing with him. However, we have to find a way to fix this problem and calm the country down. Many of the protesters in Charlottesville, Boston and Phoenix were not there because of the Hispanic population they were there because they are of the mind that Donald Trump is a bigot and a racist. I would also guess that better than 50% were there because Hillary Clinton lost. If 10% of those protesters ever spent one minute working with our state social services that try to help children and families, they would understand the problem is not this President. The problem lies with the previous administrations dating all the way back to President Reagan who never did anything to improve and promote the current immigration laws and that includes Barack Obama.

Instead of promoting the likes of Antifa and Black Lives Matter, stand with people like me who are demanding the government address the system of legal immigration now.  Let’s hold Democrats and Republicans alike to their promises during campaigns to reform the system. Let’s be committed enough to vote out the politicians who use excuses for doing nothing.  Americans should stand together on this issue.

Jeff Flake: We Can All Agree We Need Secure Borders

Jeff Flake

Senator Jeff Flake

Senator Jeff Flake recently posted the following opinion piece on Medium.

We can all agree — the President, Republicans and Democrats in Congress, and people all across the country — that we need secure borders. I also agree with the president that having a secure southern border requires physical barriers. The question is: what type of physical barriers are best? And how can technology and surveillance fill the void when physical barriers are not feasible?

I’ve been working on this issue with some of my colleagues for years. The bipartisan immigration reform bill that passed the Senate in 2013 (which I helped author) provided for 700 miles of fencing, including “double fencing” in some areas. This was in addition to doubling the number of border patrol agents from 20,000 to 40,000 as well as providing a host of other technological and border infrastructure improvements and significant additional resources to prosecute illegal border crossers.

Throughout the campaign, President Trump spoke extensively of “building a wall” along the southern border and his first budget asked for funding for “bricks and mortar” for a wall. I understand what he’s trying to accomplish, but there are there better ways to secure the border than a “brick and mortar” wall.

The closest thing we have had to a “wall” along the southern border were the surplus Vietnam War-era “landing mats” that are turned upward and placed end-to-end through some of the border communities. Because border patrol agents couldn’t see what was happening on the other side of the wall, rocks were often thrown over them, causing injury to agents and damage to border patrol vehicles. Consequently, these walls have largely been replaced with fencing.

It’s important to understand what sort of fencing we are talking about. It’s not a short chainlinked fence or a barb-wired fence you’d see on a ranch. We’re talking about a solid steel structure that often rises 20 feet above the ground but has narrow gaps allowing border patrols agents to see through to the other side.

I was pleased that during his visit to Arizona this week, President Trump traveled to the border community of Yuma, where “landing mat” walls have been replaced with fences, to great effect. I would invite the President to visit other stretches of the border in Arizona where walls have been replaced by fences in border communities. I should note that in some remote, mountainous areas, even border fences aren’t feasible because of the landscape. In these spaces, sensors, camera towers, and drone surveillance can help fill the void.

There are other issues with border walls. For example, the San Pedro watershed near the town of Naco in southern Arizona empties northward across the border into Arizona. A brick and mortar border wall would be either be breached during the monsoon season, or it would flood border communities on the Mexican side of the border. Even the current border fences in that region need storm gates to allow debris to escape northward through the border fence after a good rainstorm.

If the “border wall” is simply a metaphor for increased border security, which includes a mix of fencing, sensors, towers and drone surveillance, I strongly support the President. Arizonans have been working on this issue for years, and the downward trend in illegal border crossings over the past few years has been encouraging (owing both to better border security and an improving economy in countries south of our border).

But an actual brick and mortar border wall is not the most effective or efficient way to secure our border and keep Arizona safe.

Representative Finchem Applauds AZ Supreme Court Decision Overruling Tucson Gun Law

Mark Finchem

Mark Finchem

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Representative Mark Finchem (R-11) today expressed appreciation for the Arizona Supreme Court’s decision that Tucson’s controversial practice of destroying seized firearms is a violation of state law.

Between 2013 and 2016 the Tucson Police Department destroyed 4,820 guns, some of which were turned in by residents and others seized from crime investigations.

“It is a good thing that the City of Tucson will finally be held accountable for their blatant disregard of state law,” said Representative Finchem.  “Each citizen is expected to live by the law – for city officials to think they are exempt from state law is absurd.”

In 2013, Governor Brewer signed into law HB 2455, a bill that prohibits a city or town from destroying a firearm and requires them to sell any unclaimed firearms in their possession. Subsequently in 2016, Governor Ducey signed into law SB 1487, a bill that directs the Attorney General (AG), upon request of a member of the Legislature, to investigate any alleged violations of the Arizona Constitution or state law by a governing body of a county or municipality.

“The objective was never to punish, but to ensure observance of state law,” said Representative Finchem. “When public property is destroyed, taxpayers are ultimately hurt by the lost revenue.  Today is a victory for taxpayers and the rule of law.”

TODAY: Help the Trump Administration Repeal Title II

Earlier this year, new FCC Chairman Avit Pai began the process of rolling back Obama era regulations which put a choke hold on innovation and liberty. In 2015, the Obama Administration, in a textbook example of regulatory overreach, began applying Title II regulations to the internet. These regulations placed exceptionally restrictive burdens on internet and threatened to dramatically decrease high speed access and open competition.

Chairman Pai’s unequivocal support for a free and open internet is worthy of our applause and our support. Moreover, we should be sure to thank our entire Republican delegation in Arizona, for standing up to the Soros-funded left and backing this important regulatory rollback.

Far left groups, many funded by George Soros, have declared today a “Day of Action,” in a final desperate attempt to keep this onerous regulatory regime in place. Several large corporations are joining them, worrying more about their bottom lines than about the freedoms that the internet provides all of us.

We know that our Republican elected officials are going to be getting a tremendous amount of pressure to oppose Chairman Pai’s efforts. Let’s make sure they hear from us today, thanking them for holding the line for fairness and a free internet. You can contact them through UnlockTheNet.com where you will see links from free market groups so that you can contact your representatives.

Congressional action ensures that never again will a free an open internet be threatened by the whims of an overzealous executive. A legislative solution is the best way to keep the forces of over regulation and burdensome rule making from interfering with the commerce and innovation of the internet.

Chairman Pai and the Trump Administration are taking a crucial step in maintaining a free and open internet. Now it’s our turn to seize control and demand that Congress pass legislation that will maintain these freedoms for generations to come.

https://m.facebook.com/FreedomWorks/photos/a.10150681417619548.418729.5633824547/10155363399994548/?type=3&source=44&ref=page_internal