Dr. Kelli Ward: Opposition to Medicaid Expansion is Real

Dr. and Senator Kelli Ward

Dr. and Senator Kelli Ward

Since January, many of us at the State Capitol have been trying to determine a common sense way to approach reliable health care for our neediest citizens. It is clear that a full expansion of our Medicaid program to 138% above the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) will add 400,000 patients or more to an already overloaded system. After carefully studying this complex issue, I have determined the plan is unsustainable and potentially harmful to hardworking Arizona taxpayers. We simply do not have the doctors and other health care providers to offer primary care to these new patients. When people are sick or seek care for their chronic illnesses, they will not be able to get into a doctor’s office, so they will instead turn to our emergency departments. Not only will that be much more expensive to Arizonans, but the people are unlikely to get the kind of care they need most.

The last time we expanded AHCCCS (the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System – AZ’s Medicaid); we grossly underestimated the number of people who would enroll. Three times more parents of Medicaid-covered children and two times as many childless adults signed up. Costs went from an estimated $315 million to an actual $1.2 billion. Voters were told tobacco settlement money under Prop 204 would cover the added patients, but quickly we had to dig into the general fund. Now we are being told a hospital bed tax will cover this expansion proposal and the Federal government will bear the burden of the majority of the costs until 2017. Remember, the Federal government gets its money from us – the taxpayers. While no one can predict the true future price tag, experience proves that the costs have always been much higher than estimated.

Do not let people tell you there are no alternatives and we either expand or do nothing – there are real options. We should request that HHS allow Arizona to continue our current plan for those under 100% FPL and for Arizona to determine the best way to provide care for our indigent population. We should find ways to complete treatment of Medicaid patients that are in the midst of potentially lifesaving therapy for catastrophic illnesses despite the expiration of our current Federal waiver on December 31, 2013 – we can find a way to make an exception for this small number of patients. People above 100% FPL that are not otherwise eligible for coverage are able to buy subsidized policies through the federal exchange, we should let them. We should consider providing catastrophic coverage policies for those under 100% of the Federal Poverty Level and a graduated plan for other services. Cost transparency should be our goal. We must seek tort reform to discourage the practice of defensive medicine which drives up the cost of healthcare.

Our Medicaid system in Arizona is one of the best in the country, but I don’t believe that we need to make it bigger and give control of the hundreds of millions of dollars to an unelected agency director. I will continue to seek free market solutions to our health care dilemma and find ways to care for those who are unable to care for themselves. If you only remember one thing, remember this: the Medicaid expansion plan is about increasing the entitlement to healthcare coverage without any guarantees of increased accountability, improved access to care, higher quality, or lower costs of healthcare – it is a step in the direction of socialized medicine and much bigger government.

Senator Kelli Ward

Senator Kelli Ward, D.O., MPH is a Family Physician with additional expertise in Health Policy, she represents Arizona’s 5th Legislative District and resides in Lake Havasu City, AZ with her family. She serves on the Senate Health & Human Services (Vice-Chair), Appropriations, Education and Government & Environment Committees.

Arizona State Senator Sylvia Allen Releases No on Proposition 204 Op-Ed

Proposition 204 (“Permanent Sales Tax Increase, Education & Transportation”) is NOT the same temporary tax that is in place now and that will expire in 2013. This is a whole new tax with many changes written into the initiative.

Prop 204 is very dangerous, because it changes our constitutional form of government that requires the legislature to appropriate the tax dollars. The tax in place now did not make constitutional changes. Prop 204 decreases the power of the people by taking away their vote to check the legislature in the budgeting process. If Prop 204 passes, it will be nearly impossible for the legislature to change the sales tax rate, one of the highest in the nation, in the future.

Our national economic future is uncertain. Congress is wrestling with their $1.4 trillion budget deficit and the $16 trillion debt, and has passed a budget reduction bill that will cut aid to the state by 9% in 2013. The Arizona Legislature, which is elected by the people and accountable to the people, will need the ability more than ever to appropriate our tax dollars in the best interest of the public’s welfare and safety to keep all state responsibilities functioning.

In addition to the significant structural change in our management of tax money, Prop 204 also has language written into the bill stipulating that the legislature cannot reduce education funding from the 2012 levels going forward. This is reckless, considering that school enrollment can go up or down, and education funding should reflect that reality.

The proposition also has language that gives the Arizona Department of Transportation millions of dollars that can’t be touched and yet there is no reduction in the state gasoline tax that citizens are paying at the pump.

Those who wrote Prop 204 were also generous with other areas concerning welfare and healthcare, throwing millions of dollars into programs, and again tying the hands of the legislature in the budgeting process.

As the teachers union and others talk about the reductions to education these last three years, remember the $3 billion deficit that was brought about by increases in spending that could not be sustained. Between 2008 and 2010, the state lost 33% of its revenue, yet education received a reduction of 3.4%, in comparison to other state agencies which received reductions from 15.8% to 53%.

In 2008, state aid was $5,431 per student. Today it is $5,244. (Schools also receive federal and local dollars we have no control over.) This last session we increased funding to education by $56 million and as revenues improve, the legislature will add more.

The Arizona Legislature worked hard to bring our state budget back into balance. Along with other good legislation we have been able to improve our state economy whereas national job growth is stagnant. Arizona is now Number 4 in the nation for job creation opportunities.

Please vote NO on Prop 204 and protect your ability to have a say in the budgeting process through your elected legislator.

Senator Sylvia Allen
District 5
President pro tempore

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Dr. Kelli Ward: Affordable Healthcare Act Must Be Repealed

Lake Havasu City, AZ – Dr. Kelli Ward, candidate for the Arizona State Senate in Legislative District 5, released the following statement today regarding the Supreme Court Ruling on the Affordable Care Act:

“I am disappointed that the Supreme Court has failed to strike down the overreaching “Healthcare Law”. It is now time for Arizona to resist the Federal Government and the implementation of this overreaching legislation and work with our congressional delegation to repeal and replace this unsustainable law. I plan to work for Arizona to help develop a healthcare system that includes a safety net, accountability and purchasing freedoms while encouraging people to be consumers of healthcare and not just of insurance. To accomplish this, we must remember a fundamental principle: government intervention will not make healthcare more affordable – it only drives up the costs. The same is true when big insurance gets involved in healthcare policy; the costs go up. Only free market solutions will solve this issue. It is time to elect someone to the State Senate that understands healthcare delivery, the difficulty for the underinsured and uninsured and the frustration of providing care without accountability to Arizonans on Medicaid programs. When elected to the State Senate I will advocate the following:

  • -Oppose the Federal Government and state implementation of the Affordable Healthcare Act
  • Drug testing with consequences for people getting taxpayer assistance
  • Freedom to purchase insurance across state lines
  • Tort reform
  • Intelligent changes to Medicaid programs to help people get the care they need
  • Decrease the influence of big insurance on the Legislature and policy makers
  • Encourage patients to understand real healthcare costs and become healthcare consumers, removing the health insurance companies and the government from the Physician-Patient relationship

Dr. Kelli Ward is a conservative Republican candidate from LD5 who lives in Lake Havasu City, AZ with her husband, Dr. Michael Ward, and their three kids Katie, Cameron and Nick. She is a family physician with additional experience in small business, corporate administration, medical education, health policy and public health. She is a mom, Rotarian and military spouse.

Lake Havasu City Mayor Mark Nexsen Endorses Dr. Kelli Ward

Lake Havasu City, AZ – Dr. Kelli Ward, candidate for the Arizona State Senate in Legislative District 5, announces the endorsement of Lake Havasu City Mayor Mark Nexsen. Dr. Ward continues to gain momentum as she receives key endorsements throughout the District such as Kingman Mayor John Salem, the Lake Havasu Police Officers Association and the Mohave Republican Forum.

“I am proud to endorse Dr. Kelli Ward for the office of Arizona State Senator, LD5”, stated Mayor Mark Nexsen. “Kelli fully understands the issues that are facing our cities and towns. She has the leadership qualities and keen analytical sense to understand and solve the issues facing our state. I look forward to casting my vote for Dr. Kelli Ward on August 28, 2012.”

Dr. Ward is honored to receive the endorsement of Mayor Nexsen. She shares Mayor Nexsen’s strong belief that the best government is the government closest to the people and that the state should not shift its responsibilities to balance its own budget to counties and cities. “I believe that the endorsements of our local city leaders like Mayor Nexsen are far more important than distant organizations that may not have the same priorities that we have in Mohave and La Paz Counties. I am dedicated to improving our economic development and bringing additional good paying, skilled jobs to our district. I value my relationship with our local leaders and look forward to working with them to improve the opportunities afforded the residents of LD5.”

Dr. Kelli Ward is a conservative Republican candidate from LD5 and lives in Lake Havasu City, AZ with her husband, Dr. Michael Ward, and their three kids Katie, Cameron and Nick. She is a family physician with additional experience in small business, corporate administration, medical education, health policy and public health. She is a mom, Rotarian and military spouse.