More Political Backlash from the Arizona Medicaid Expansion Vote

A Maricopa County delegation from Arizona’s first legislative district recently voted to condemn their state senator for his vote on Medicaid expansion.

In a unanimous vote, the LD-1 Republicans precinct committeemen issued the following strong rebuke:

On June 17th, Republican Precinct Committeemen at Legislative District 1 MC voted unanimously to condemn Senator Pierce’s actions regarding the Medicaid Expansion, a vote of “No Confidence” as follows: 

We move that LD1 express a vote of no confidence in our LD1 Senator Steve Pierce who overwhelmingly and completely voted with Democrats regarding the Medicaid expansion and amendments (some are saying up to 50 times) in opposition to his fellow Republican senators, constituents, and party platform.

In total, five state senators and nine state representatives aligned with big government Democrats to vote for the Obamacare provision of Medicaid expansion.

Don’t be surprised if more Republican grassroots officials and organizations issue condemnations of these 14 legislators and the governor.

At the same time Sonoran Alliance encourages these same organizations to issue praise and appreciation to those legislators who voted against the Obamacare provision of Medicaid expansion.

Rep. Paul Boyer: Budget Process Was Not “Democracy In Action”

As a legislative liaison for an agency of the executive branch, I witnessed numerous budgets from their initial framework through the finished product, including negotiations and committee hearings. I was also a House majority staffer, where I helped outline and communicate several state budgets. It was shocking and frustrating to have my first budget as a state legislator be the least transparent in recent memory.

It is unprecedented for the Legislature to pass a budget without an Appropriations Committee hearing and public input. That happened here. It is also unprecedented for a sponsor to refuse to answer a single question on budget bills in his or her name. That happened here.

Further, our Committee of the Whole, which includes all members, gathers to debate and shape bills. That did not happen here. In our case, the only debate that mattered convened behind closed doors with the governor and a handful of lawmakers who made a deal to pass the governor’s Medicaid expansion.

The Gov. Jan Brewer’s legislative cadre consists of 24 Democrats and nine Republicans in the House. They passed what is arguably the largest federal takeover of Arizona’s economy in state history with her Medicaid-expansion plan. They accomplished this through suspending House rules, refusing to answer questions and prohibiting public testimony.

We repeatedly asked the budget sponsor, Rep. Frank Pratt, R-Casa Grande, to answer questions on the 654 pages of budget bills and amendments in his name. He refused to answer a single question, later saying he wanted to keep the budget process as short as possible.

The governor’s spokesman had the audacity to call these actions “democracy in action.” It’s unnerving to suggest suspending the rules, refusing public input, pushing a budget through without an Appropriations Committee hearing, passing amendments with no time to read them and refusing to answer questions, democracy in action.

Supporters argue this violation of the process was acceptable because they believe the Medicaid expansion is good policy. Regardless, we should always respect the process. We have three branches of government, not two.

While the legislative and executive branches may not always agree, it is critical we have mutual respect and honor the integrity of the process. That did not happen here.

The public still needs to know what impact this budget and massive government expansion will have on our economy.

Does this budget spend more than we bring in? For example, the governor said her budget spends $15 million less over three years than the conservative House budget. However, she does not include her hospital bed tax in this equation and actually counts that against new spending, which is actually $286 million higher than our budget.

If the state Capitol is truly the people’s house, then the people have a right to know what the Legislature is proposing before we pass it.

Arizonans sent us here to discuss and debate what we pass publicly so all Arizonans know how the Legislature is spending their tax dollars.

And that wasn’t all of it. The Governor’s legislative caucus was ready to push out her Medicaid expansion and her budget in one day until the Rules attorney told them couldn’t without 2/3rds (40 Members), an Arizona Constitutional requirement and they only had 33 votes.

They were also prepared to remove the Speaker and the President if Leadership didn’t do what they wanted. One freshman legislator was quoted as saying they would remove Speaker Tobin if “he didn’t play nice,” when the entire time we all knew they had a vehicle to get Medicaid expansion up to the Governor (SB 1057) and we just put our conservative House budget on the Appropriations agenda for that Thursday. Given they had 33 votes, they could’ve easily added whatever they wanted to what we passed out of Appropriations, i.e. none of this was necessary. They still could have pushed for everything they wanted without violating the process and giving Arizonans a chance to weigh in and know exactly what they were passing. Most of the Governor’s legislative caucus didn’t even know what they voted for.

Not to mention President Andy Biggs found out about the Special Session from a reporter as he was driving home. I was with House Leadership when we found out about the Special Session that began at 5pm on Tuesday after it had already begun.

Representative Justin Olson from his floor testimony was correct. The Governor and her legislative cadre have promised entitlements we will never be able to pay for. And the core, necessary services government is obligated to provide will suffer as a result, along with every other legislative priority.

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Republican State Representative Paul Boyer, represents Legislative District 20, which covers parts of Phoenix and Glendale. He is a member of the House Appropriations Committee.

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)

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

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

Update on Obamacare-Medicaid Expansion in Arizona

Here’s a brief update on the push to expand Medicaid in the Arizona Legislature.

Rumors are circulating that Senator John McComish is attempting to orchestrate a coup d’état on Senate President Andy Biggs as former Senate President Steve Pierce looks on with plausible deniability. Why a coup? Because Senate President Andy Biggs is the one individual holding firm against a vote on Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion in the State Senate. Both McComish and Pierce are supporting Governor Brewer and trying to pave the way for her Medicaid plan. But you should also know that McComish and especially Pierce took thousands of dollars from higher-ups in the healthcare industrial complex during the last election cycle. (Biggs did not.) We are compiling the names and amounts of all the donations received by Medicaid proponents with the goal of connecting the dots. Just another example of the corporate-political incest (yes, it happens on both sides.)

Meanwhile in the State House, Governor Brewer does NOT have the votes to pass her Medicaid expansion. Proponents of Medicaid expansion are short the votes needed to require both a simple majority and two-thirds vote (Prop 108 requirement). House Speaker Andy Tobin is also holding back a vote on the legislation so you can imagine he is under tremendous pressure to let the legislation move for a vote.

At the same time all this is taking place, Democrats are getting very irritated with an effort to amend any legislation to prohibit our tax dollars from going to Planned Parenthood. (We all know that giving money to Planned Parenthood is an accounting game that allows them to free up other funds for abortions.) Democrats want the Medicaid bill to remain silent on tax dollars to abortion providers because they know Planned Parenthood would be feasting off the same steady stream of tax dollars “returning” from the federal government. In fact, House minority leader and likely Democrat gubernatorial candidate Chad Campbell sent an email out today expressing frustration, covering for abortion providers and urging individuals to call their legislators. His rhetoric has heated up calling social and religious conservatives “extremists,” “right-wing” and “special interests” all because they oppose using tax dollars to fund Planned Parenthood.

Keep your eyes on the players in this whole exercise of corporate cronyism and who stands to gain the most “free” tax dollars.

MIHS Meets in Closed Door Session to Discuss Controversial State Contract


The Maricopa County Integrated Health Systems Board of Directors
is currently meeting in closed-door Executive Session to discuss the current legal challenge and protest filed by Magellan and United RHBA against MMIC (Mercy Maricopa Integrated Care), MIHS CEO Betsey Bayless, and Maricopa County Special Health Care District.  The current agenda shows a 30-minute spot dedicated to discussion of this subject, all of which will be exempt from records requests and exempt from public inspection.

It is not surprising that the MIHS Board is keeping a low profile and is remaining tight-lipped about this controversial contract after being awarded a possibly illegal $2 billion to $3 billion dollar contract from the State of Arizona.  This came on the heels of a controversial pay raise for MIHS CEO Betsey Bayless that raised her taxpayer salary to $500,000.

Accountability and SunshineThe board will apparently receive legal advice on the protest to the bid and discuss options moving forward.  An administrative law judge is likely to uphold the Department’s awarding of the contract, leaving a lawsuit targeting the state as a possible option.  Magellan has already filed a civil suit seeking financial damages in Maricopa County Superior Court against MIHS and MIHS’ CEO Betsey Bayless.  Magellan alleges MIHS was awarded the contract improperly and used proprietary information from Magellan to win the bid.

The new contract was set to begin on October 1, 2013, but the protest and lawsuit are likely to delay implementation.  Previously MIHS responded to the formal protest with the following statement:

“We are studying those protests and will respond in the appropriate venues,” the statement said. “We are confident in the strength of our bid, and we are proud to offer a unique, collaborative approach to meet Maricopa County Medicaid recipients’ behavioral-health needs and to integrate the behavioral- health and medical services for those with serious mental illness.”

If you recall, the lawsuit also alleges “serious conflicts of interest” by MIHS because Mercy Maricopa both manages the system and provide services, which is “prohibited by the contract and by state law.” Magellan also alleges that the bidding process contained “serious irregularities,” such as the state’s bidding process being amended twice to unfairly benefit MIHS over their private competitors.  Additional claims include conflicts of interest, improper scoring, licensing problems, and disclosure of proprietary information to competitors. Magellan originally serviced the state contract since 2007.

The serious allegations require attention and deserve public scrutiny.  MIHS should be holding discussions on the contract and the protest, but they should be doing this in the face of the public.  Not behind closed doors immune from public records requests. MIHS is a government entity that collects nearly $60 million dollars in property taxes every year and is run by a publicly elected Board of Directors.  When the state awards a contract that could be worth up to $3 billion dollars, possible bias in favor of a taxpayer funded MIHS over private competitors deserves more sunshine and certainly more accountability.

If you’d like to contact the MIHS Board of Directors and demand more transparency for taxpayers, they can be reached via email as follows:

 

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.