Jan Brewer Opts Out Of
Arizona Governor Declines Participation In The PPACA Even Though It Would Allow Her To Fulfill The Will Of Voters And Provide Care For Those Living In Poverty
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer in her official photo.
By John Guzzon
Modern Times Magazine
Nov. 29, 2012 — Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer opted out yesterday.
But not just out of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, but of the world of sanity, reality and compassion.
The lady who actor Chuck Norris said “eats scorpions for breakfast” instead gobbled up any chance people in poverty without children might have for medical coverage in Arizona.
These people are all around us. Some, like those who are homeless, are easy targets for those who don’t like “takers.” Others, though, are people who through virtually no fault of their own — accidents and other disasters — do not earn much money.
To be fair, Brewer said in a statement yesterday that there are valid reasons why the state must not go along with Obamacare.
“A state exchange would be costly. Though the federal government has pledged to pay nearly all startup costs, states that form their own health exchanges are on the hook for operational expenses beginning in 2015. Those costs could total $27 million to $40 million annually for the State of Arizona, according to a recent study conducted by Mercer. Of course, these expenses would be passed along in the form of fees resulting in higher health premiums for Arizona families and small businesses. This would be an additional financial burden at a time when so many Arizonans are still struggling,” Brewer said. “Lastly, there simply remains too much we don’t know about how a State-based Exchange would function and its ultimate cost to taxpayers. Without clear federal guidance and instruction, I cannot in good conscience commit the taxpayers of my state to this costly endeavor.”
The problem, however, is that those arguments make very little rational sense. This is all about politics. It had very little to do with actual policy or what is good for the state and its residents.
Brewer went on to praise AHCCCS, the Arizona plan that covers the insured.
“The State of Arizona has a long history of health care innovation. Our Medicaid program, AHCCCS, has been a national model of cost-efficient care for three decades, and our pioneering pursuit of integrated health is designed to improve the quality of life for Arizonans living with serious mental illness. In this proud tradition, I remain committed to working with legislators to enact State reforms that improve care and reduce costs for Arizona families, while maintaining a vibrant and competitive health care marketplace,” she said.
This is the same AHCCCS that Brewer and former Senate President Russell Pearce raided for $190 million in the 2010-2011 fiscal year alone. The casualties in the raid were single adults without children who lost most or all of their coverage.
Even worse was that the people of this state had already adopted a ballot measure that brought this coverage to those in poverty. It was called Proposition 204 and it was passed in 2000 by nearly a 2-to-1 margin. It used tobacco settlement money to expand coverage to those up to 100 percent of the poverty level.
But when the state budget sank, the legislature took all of the tobacco money, regardless of the law.
She did not ‘get it’ then, either.
Sure, the state was sued after they raided the insurance net for those in poverty, but the Supreme Court said Proposition 204 did not mandate that the legislature fund it. So, the cuts happened.
And no one could do anything about that decision.
Now, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, states are free to make colossally bad decisions for their residents by opting out.
In what might be the mother of all ironies, now that the economy isn’t so bad the state budget is no longer in freefall like it was when this level of care was taken away. The Joint Legislative Budget Committee released a report in July that said the budget surplus was estimated to be $379 million.
So now that the crisis is over, Brewer is saying that the state can’t afford to spend nothing for three years by opting into Obamacare. And, to return to the will of the people.
So, the costs of, “$27 million to $40 million annually” that Brewer mentioned would not put the state into debt at all. And, it would return coverage to levels mandated by voters.
Yup, she’s opted out alright.
But it gets worse. Brewer also stated, “Lastly, there simply remains too much we don’t know about how a State-based Exchange would function and its ultimate cost to taxpayers.”
Hogwash. The U.S. Department of Health Services issued a slew of rules just last week. http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2012pres/11/20121120a.html The DHS made yet another concession to states by allowing them to determine the prescription drugs that would be covered.
But perhaps the worst characterizations is that the state may be stuck with a huge bill. Well, the PPACA has a solution for that, too. Besides the fact that the federal government will be paying ALL of the cost for the first three years, state cost cannot exceed more than 10 percent of the plan.
Granted, Brewer was between a rock and a hard place. Even if she did decide to opt in, the legislature would have had to agree and that was not a sure thing. Even though Pearce is gone, many like Sylvia Allen are still vapid anti-federalists.
But why didn’t she hang the ‘opt out’ on the legislature? She might have made some heroes out of the nameless ideologues that roam the statehouse. She is term limited — unless she tries something funny, which has been mentioned recently — so what is her need to fly in the face of voter mandates and budget surpluses?
Its politics plain and simple.
“My opposition to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is unwavering, as is my belief that it should be repealed and replaced with legislation that achieves its stated goals: to improve access to quality, affordable health care in this country. But I am also aware that the ACA remains the law of the land. Likewise, though I am a steady advocate of local control, I have come to the conclusion that the State of Arizona would wield little actual authority over its ‘state’ Exchange. The federal government would maintain oversight and control over virtually every aspect of our Exchange, limiting our ability to meet the unique needs of Arizonans and the Arizona insurance market,” Brewer said in her statement.
Yup, she’s opted out of reality.
Her statement is a virtual cacophony of contradictions. She opposes a federal law, mainly because it will help her fund insurance coverage for virtually all people. She just doesn’t like the rules. And, the rules she could make are not enough for her. She also complains that the rules are too vague, leading to an unknown future. But the rules are not really confusing at all.
She just doesn’t like the PPACA, even if it will help you, your family and your neighbors.
If only we could opt out, too...of the last two years of her term.
That might be the best preventative healthcare this state has ever experienced.
John Guzzon is editor of Modern Times Magazine.
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