American Commitment Thanks Arizona’s True Conservatives

American Commitment released the following video showing footage of the true conservatives in the Arizona House of Representatives standing up to a Machiavellian move by Governor Brewer, the entire Democrat delegation and nine rogue Republicans.

Sonoran Alliance also thanks the conservatives in the House who understand the horrific long-term fiscal impact that Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion will have on the State of Arizona, long after Governor Brewer makes her exit from public service. These men and women cannot be held responsible for the damage that this bad law will have on Arizona citizens. They stood their ground and for that, we are grateful.

State Representative Adam Kwasman fights against Obamacare Medicaid Expansion in Arizona

Thank you State Representative Adam Kwasman for standing up to Obamacare and Governor Brewer and for conservative principles and the rule of process in the Arizona Legislature!

Washington Examiner: Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer rams through Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion

Reposted from the Washington Examiner for all the blind followers or corporate cronyists of Governor Brewer.

By Philip Klein
Senior Editorial Writer

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, working with Democrats against members of her own party, rammed through a vast expansion of the Medicaid program under Obamacare through the state legislature, putting federal taxpayers on the hook for billions of dollars in health care spending.

Despite claiming to oppose President Obama’s health care law, Brewer embraced one of the law’s most expensive provisions — a Medicaid expansion — in January, under the influence of lobbying from the hospital industry.

Brewer then spent the past several months trying to coax reluctant members of her own party to back the measure. When that failed, she called a special session of the state legislature, and formed an alliance with Democrats to ram the bill through the state House at 3:40 am this morning.

As a result of the lawsuit that Arizona was a part of, the Supreme Court ruled that states must be given the option of whether or not to accept the expansion of Medicaid that was part of the health care law. It is expected to pass through the senate.

(keep reading)

Rep Warren Petersen: Why Conservatives Oppose Expansion of Obamacare

Warren PetersenThe battle over the Arizona expansion of Obamacare resembles the fight between David and Goliath. The pro-expansion team has millions of dollars, powerful lobbyists, support from all Democratic legislators, most if not all of the media and a few Republicans who have defected to their cause.

You’ve probably heard radio ads, watched commercials on ESPN or received a full page glossy mailer promoting their “conservative plan.” The only problem is that conservative legislators do not support it.

Here are a few reasons why.

We don’t fall for optical illusions. When the pro-expansion team bused in 300 people to their last rally, we knew that their support was a charade. When they say 63,000 people will lose coverage, we knew that it was not true. Those currently on Medicaid will still have coverage with or without the expansion. Even if it was true, they could get insurance from exchanges with any minimum wage job. We know that it is money and not compassion that is driving this train. A train that Harry Reid (U.S. Senate majority leader) said will wreck without the appropriation of more federal funds.

We stick to the facts and know that the budget put forth by Arizona Senate President Andy Biggs will not drain the rainy day fund or kick people off Medicaid. It does, however, include a request to renew our federal waiver. The pro-expansion team has said the waiver has been denied when, in reality, it has not. Cutting and pasting a web FAQ directed to 50 states is not the same as formally submitting your plan and receiving a denial letter. Ironically, this is the same argument the Democrats made when we last requested a waiver. They said we couldn’t get it, but we did. Will they deny that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled you can’t coerce people into expansion?

Another fact is that expansion doesn’t deal with health care of poor children. We are talking about a select group of adults of whom many have incomes above the poverty level. We are not talking about disabled people who cannot work. They have and will continue to have Medicaid coverage.

We have learned from history that we can afford to wait a year with or without the waiver as Arizona was the last state to implement Medicaid. We waited about 20 years and now it consumes one of every four dollars we spend. Obamacare is going to implode, which even the pro-expansion team admits. When it does, the expansion will go with it. It would be foolish to add onto something that is unraveling prior to implementation.

We know the numbers don’t add up. Conservatives don’t raise taxes on hospitals as a gimmick to draw down federal funds and they don’t put hundreds of thousands of people on a welfare program that will cost billions. Billions will be added to the national debt of which some will be used to fund abortions. Fortunately, half of the states have now refused the expansion. They took advantage of this rare opportunity to cut federal spending.

We believe in the American dream, which depends on every able bodied American to contribute and work. As mentioned before, a minimum wage job qualifies a person for health care exchange coverage. This will increase wealth and allow further contributions to society. Ours is a society that has been the most prosperous in the world because it promises that people can keep what they earn. Nations that guarantee benefits others have earned fail. Conservatives understand that and know that expansion is nothing more than massive growth of the welfare state and a direct threat to our long-term economic health.

Warren Petersen serves the citizens of Legislative District 12. He and his wife and children reside in the Town of Gilbert. For more information, visit his Facebook page.

AFP-Arizona Action Alert – Bring Your Sleeping Bag?

Americans for Prosperity - Arizona

ACTION ALERT — Thursday, May 23, 2013

To all Arizona Taxpayers and Health Care Freedom Fighters:

You can put away your sleeping bag, for now.

But be sure to pull out your cell phone… 

Earlier this week, as I planned this action alert, I was going to suggest to diehard grassroots activists that you bring your sleeping bags and camp out at the Arizona Legislature tonight for what I thought would be the last night of the 2013 legislative session. Bad things often happen to good bills in the middle of the night, and bad bills you thought were dead often come back to life on the last night of session. And sometimes, a handful of vigilant activists and a handful of pro-taxpayer Legislators can successfully sound the alarm against shenanigans in the wee hours.

After last Thursday’s disastrous floor session in the Senate, it looked as if Governor Brewer’sproposed expansion of Medicaid under ObamaCare was destined to pass in some form this week.

But after conversations yesterday with several House members, we believe that no action on the ObamaCare Medicaid expansion is likely until next week. Good news: Thanks in large part to grassroots pressure from taxpayer activists, resistance to the expansion is still very strong in the Republican majority.

KEEP UP THE PRESSURE!

The next big battle will be in the House Appropriations Committee, probably next week. Please contact your Legislators (especially House members), and urge them to vote NO — early and often — on the ObamaCare Medicaid expansion. You can email them by using our ACTION LINK. Phone numbers for House members are available here (don’t waste your time calling the ones with “D” in the third column).

Handy URL for our email action page: http://tinyurl.com/nomedicaidexp

For Liberty, Tom

Tom Jenney
Arizona Director
Americans for Prosperity
www.aztaxpayers.org

The Arizona Senate & Medicaid Expansion: A Lesson in Making a Bad Bill Worse

By Christina Corieri

Last week, the Arizona Senate passed Medicaid expansion. Sadly, the proponents were not satisfied with merely passing a program expansion we can’t afford; they actively worked together to kill a series of common sense amendments that would have prevented extra expense and abuse.

One amendment would have activated the circuit breaker if the federal government ever dropped its share of the cost below the promised 90 percent, but every senate Democrat and five Republicans voted the amendment down, signaling that the Feds should feel free to increase Arizona’s costs.

Another amendment would have required an independent audit to ensure hospitals don’t pass the provider tax on to patients. Expansion proponents voted the amendment down, making it easier for hospitals to illegally pass the cost along without fear of being caught.

An amendment was offered to require an annual report on the quality of care provided by AHCCCS, Arizona’s Medicaid program. Although taxpayers have a right to know whether their money is being put to good use, these same senators voted the amendment down. Without this transparency, proponents can continue to assert how well the program works without risking evidence to the contrary.

This coalition also voted down amendments designed to curtail non-emergency use of emergency rooms and ambulances, which result in high, unnecessary costs to the state. Likewise, they voted down amendments to require health professionals and pharmacists to check the prescription monitoring database before authorizing or filling a member’s prescription for a controlled substance such as Oxycodone, Percocet, or Vicodin. These amendments would have saved taxpayers from paying for and enabling addictions to these medications.

While the Medicaid expansion is a costly and misguided policy, these amendments were not poison pills but sensible ways to mitigate some of the costs and prevent abuse. The proponents, however, made a bad bill much worse by rejecting these amendments. Thankfully, the Senate does not have the last word. While we hope the House declines the Medicaid expansion, at a minimum, we hope it supports some common sense amendments that will help protect taxpayers.

Christina Corieri is a health care policy analyst with the Goldwater Institute.

 

Friday Poll: Do You Support/Oppose Obamacare’s Medicaid Expansion in Arizona?

In case you missed it, the Arizona Executive and Legislative branches are embroiled in a battle over expanding Obamacare’s Medicaid program in Arizona. Here is the latest Friday poll gauging our reader’s position on this issue. Votes are scheduled in the Arizona House next week.

Bill Whittle Joins Conservative Activists at Capitol Wednesday!

REPRESENTATIVE PETERSEN TO HOST BILL WHITTLE  

STATE CAPITOL – (May 14, 2013) Tomorrow afternoon, conservative national blogger, political commentator, director, screenwriter, editor and author, Bill Whittle, will address like-minded opponents of Medicaid expansion. Representative Warren Petersen (R-Dist. 12) will host the discussion on the Senate Lawn.

WHAT: Response to Medicaid Expansion

WHEN: Wednesday, May 15, 2013 – 12:00 PM

WHERE: Arizona State Capitol, Senate Lawn

WHO: In attendance will be:

  • State Representative Warren Petersen (R-Dist. 12)
  • Other Arizona Legislators
  • Various Republican Party County Chairmen
  • Various Republican Party Precinct Committeemen

NFIB Poll: Small Business Strongly Opposes Expanding Medicaid

NFIBforwebSurvey reveals Arizona entrepreneurs’ deep skepticism of federal funding promises

PHOENIX, Ariz., May 14, 2013 — In a poll released today by their leading association, small-business owners overwhelmingly oppose the high-stakes effort at the Arizona State Capitol to expand Medicaid coverage to all Arizonans at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level as envisioned by the federal healthcare law.

The recent survey conducted by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB/Arizona) found 79 percent of Arizona small-business owners opposed to the proposed eligibility expansion for the state’s Medicaid program, also known as the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System or AHCCCS.

Eighteen percent support the Medicaid expansion proposal with less than 3 percent saying they are undecided.

NFIB Medicaid Poll ResultsThe controversial Medicaid proposal, a centerpiece of Gov. Jan Brewer’s legislative agenda, is principally backed by hospital systems and opposed by key legislative leaders like Senate President Andy Biggs and conservative activists.

The political impasse over Medicaid expansion has stalled the Legislature’s work on the state budget for the next fiscal year, which begins on July 1, 2013.

“Small businesses in Arizona clearly feel they are under siege by the Obamacare law, with its harsh employer mandates, new taxes and pervasive uncertainty,” said Farrell Quinlan, the Arizona state director for the National Federation of Independent Business. “Our survey found that Arizona’s small-business owners continue to strongly oppose expanding AHCCCS eligibility, because they have no faith in the federal government’s promises to pay for adding hundreds-of-thousands of Arizonans to our Medicaid rolls. Our small-business owners know Washington is more than $16 trillion in debt and Congress will be under increasing pressure to cut the biggest drivers of federal spending – entitlements like Medicaid.”

NFIB/Arizona’s May survey on Medicaid expansion reaffirms small business’ sentiments against expanding Medicaid found in a prior survey conducted before Governor Brewer announced her support for the policy change during her State of the State Address in January.

NFIB Medicaid Poll Results 1/13 and 5/13

In that poll, 77 percent opposed the expansion with 13 percent favoring it and 10 undecided.

“It’s instructive that after months of intense promotion and expensive radio and television advertising campaigns, pro-expansion forces have utterly failed to move the support needle with Arizona small business owners,” said Quinlan. “The public’s attitudes have clearly hardened on Obamacare and the fundamental transformation of health care occurring in the United States.”

Respondents to NFIB/Arizona’s survey were also given the opportunity to provide an open-ended answer on the Medicaid expansion issue and implementation of Obamacare in general. The majority viewpoint is best summarized by one respondent’s declaration: “Arizona won’t be able to afford AHCCCS expansion when Washington realizes America can’t afford Obamacare.” Another opponent expressed his profound ambivalence over the decision before Arizona lawmakers: “Either choice is going to be tough and expensive, but to trust the federal government is a mistake. I do not feel that they will make good on their promise to cover the expenses.”

A Medicaid-expansion supporter wrote: “As I understand it, the expansion goes away if/when the federal money goes away. That is the only reason I am supporting it now. When Obama doesn’t want to pay for it anymore, neither should Arizonans.” Another supporter exclaimed: “Believe we are trapped. If O C [Obamacare] stays this seems like the only way to go. But we must have the 90 percent funding from the Feds.”

The latest poll was conducted May 6 to May 13, 2013, as an online and fax-returned survey with 375 Arizona small-business owners responding. The prior poll mentioned above was conducted November 9, 2012 to January 4, 2013 consisting of 449 Arizona small business owners responding. Both polls tested the same question though the set-up explanations of what proponents and opponents say about the policy proposal were updated and expanded in the latest survey. The online version of the May survey can be viewed here.

NFIB routinely surveys its members to determine the organization’s public policy position on issues at the federal and state levels. Due to the overwhelming and consistent results of the two surveys, the upcoming votes by the Arizona Senate and Arizona House of Representatives on Medicaid expansion have been identified as ‘key votes’ eligible to be used on NFIB/Arizona’s legislative score card for the 2013 session.

Commemorating its 70th anniversary, the National Federation of Independent Business is the nation’s leading small-business association with 350,000 members nationwide and 7,500 in Arizona. NFIB has offices in Washington, D.C., and all 50 state capitals. Founded in 1943 as a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, NFIB gives small- and independent-business owners a voice in shaping the public policy issues that affect their business. NFIB’s powerful network of grassroots activists sends its views directly to state and federal lawmakers through our unique member-only ballot, thus playing a critical role in supporting America’s free enterprise system. NFIB’s mission is to promote and protect the right of our members to own, operate and grow their businesses. More information about NFIB is available at www.NFIB.com/newsroom.

Medicaid Expansion: Been There, Done That

AFP Arizona

To all Arizona taxpayers and health care consumers:

When it comes to the fiscal costs and human damage of expanding Medicaid/AHCCCS under ObamaCare, we know that things will turn out badly.  How do we know?  Because we’ve been there, and we’ve done that.  Here is what past experience, here in Arizona and elsewhere, tells us about the proposed expansion:

1)   The Medicaid expansion will cost much more than projected.
2)  The expansion may do nothing to help low-income Arizonans — and could hurt them.
3)  The so-called “hidden health tax” won’t get fixed.
4)  Arizona must bargain hard to get a better deal.
5)  The disgusting ploy to gut Prop 108 taxpayer protections will lead to more tax hikes.

You can read more about each of those items below, and TAKE ACTION HERE.  And click onthis link for info about the health care freedom protest at the Arizona Capitol on May 15.

1)  The Medicaid expansion will cost much more than projected.

None of the promised fiscal results of Arizona’s last Medicaid/AHCCCS expansion (enacted by voters through Prop 204 in 2000) actually materialized.  Prop 204 backers promised that the AHCCCS expansion would save money in the state budget.  The Joint Legislative Budget Committee was somewhat wiser, knowing that the expansion would cost the state money.  The committee projected that covering the Prop 204 population would cost $389 million in 2008.  But the actual cost was $1.623 billion — four times as expensive as projected!

And of course, the projected $2 billion in federal matching funds is not “free.” Certainly not for federal taxpayers — including millions of Arizonans.  According to the Goldwater Institute’sChristina Corieri, if Arizona and 11 other fence-sitter States join the 18 States that have already said No to the ObamaCare Medicaid expansion, the country could save $609 billion by 2022. That’s real money — even in Washington!

2)  The expansion may do nothing to help low-income Arizonans — and could hurt them.

Several studies
 suggest that Medicaid may actually hurt its supposed beneficiaries, but there has been only one randomized study (the Oregon Health Insurance Experiment) comparing persons on Medicaid to persons having no insurance at all.  According to results released last weekthe study has so far failed to find any evidence that putting people on Medicaid saved any lives or made any improvements in several objective health markers (blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and diabetes).

Things will get worse in AHCCCS the longer ObamaCare goes without being repealed.  In Arizona, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 23 percent of doctors say they will not accept AHCCCS patients.  Combine large increases in the Medicaid population with a declining number of doctors, and the result will be longer waiting times for patients.  In medicine, longer waiting times often mean discomfort, disability and death.  Read more about the human cost of the Medicaid expansion HERE.

3)  The so-called “hidden health tax” won’t get fixed.

The proponents of the current Medicaid expansion estimate that there is a “hidden health tax” of $2,000 per family per year in higher insurance premiums caused by uncompensated care(uninsured or underinsured people using the emergency room).  13 years ago, backers of the Prop 204 Medicaid expansion made the same argument, claiming that the expansion was going to relieve the state’s uncompensated care problem.  But according to a Lewin Group study,uncompensated care in Arizona increased by an average of nine percent per year during the first seven years of the Prop 204 Medicaid expansion, and the average family’s health insurance premium increased from $8,972 in 2003 to $14,854 in 2011 – a 66 percent increase.

Before you believe the hospital lobby’s arguments about uncompensated care, be sure to read Christina Corieri’s latest post: Medicaid expansion will line hospitals’ pockets.

4)  Arizona must bargain hard to get a better deal.

The main reason Arizona’s Medicaid system (AHCCCS) is not as bad as that in most other States is that Arizona waited two decades to join the Medicaid program.  Because we held out, we were able to bargain for a better deal — a Medicaid program that has been better at controlling costs and has provided better options for patients than in many other States.

But Governor Brewer’s team has failed to even try negotiating with Obama’s department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  In its most recent message about the Section 1115 waiver, HHS said “we do not anticipate that we would authorize enrollment caps or similar policies” while still letting States get 2-to-1 matching dollars.  But of course, “we do not anticipate” is not the same thing as saying “No.”  Right now, HHS is in the position of having to negotiate with States, because 18 States have already said No to the Medicaid expansion, and 12 States are still on the fence.  At this point, we don’t know if HHS really means “No,” because the Governor’s team simply threw up the white flag and capitulated to the demands of the Obama Administration.

Further, the Governor’s cost projections are based on AHCCCS coverage under cookie cutter Medicaid rules — in other words, how much things will cost if we capitulate and run AHCCCS according to federal diktat, without negotiating for better ways to run the program.

5)  The disgusting ploy to gut Prop 108 taxpayer protections will lead to more tax hikes.

Proponents of the ObamaCare Medicaid expansion are trying to do an end-run around Prop 108, the most important taxpayer protection in the Arizona Constitution.  Under Prop 108, it is supposed to take a two-thirds majority of the Legislature to raise taxes.  But Medicaid expansion proponents want to allow an unelected bureaucrat at AHCCCS to raise state taxes (mainlyhospital bed taxes) by hundreds of millions of dollars per year — without a two-thirds vote of the Legislature!

In their efforts to squeeze a giant hospital bed tax (“provider tax”) through a tiny loophole in Prop 108, Governor Brewer and others are trying to pretend that the provider tax is not a tax — even though the provider tax is a TAX under the Social Security Act.  They are also trying to pretend that: the provider tax is not allocated according to formula, although it plainly is; the provider tax does not have a limit, although it is limited by federal law to six percent; and, we don’t know how much money will be raised by the tax, even though the Governor and some Legislators are building budgets around the expected revenue.

History shows that removing taxpayer protections inevitably leads to higher taxes.  If Arizona’s Legislators delegate to an AHCCCS bureaucrat the authority to impose gigantic taxes on hospital patients, they will kill Prop 108, clearing the way for other departments and agencies to raise taxes without getting approval by legislative supermajorities.

To block the ObamaCare Medicaid expansion and to stop the end-run around Arizona’s constitutional taxpayer protections, TAKE ACTION HERE. For more information about the May 15 health care freedom protest at the Arizona Capitol, go here.

For Liberty, Tom

Tom Jenney
Arizona Director
Americans for Prosperity
www.aztaxpayers.org