In the Health and Human Services Committee, we have heard a few different insurance plans that would be cheaper and less comprehensive alternatives to the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
With SB1107, healthcare moves into the gig economy. SB1107 covers direct primary care agreements, a non-insurance alternative to the ACA. In Arizona, people are already allowed to make one-on-one contracts with a healthcare provider for certain services for a designated mount of money per month.
This bill clarifies existing law and says that these contracts are not insurance and, therefore, not regulated by the Arizona Department of insurance. It also says that you can have contracts with doctors, physicians assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, dentists, and physical therapists.
If you take this to it’s illogical extreme, you could have multiple contracts with different providers for different menus of services. Unless you are really good at contract law, you could end up having several contracts, paying monthly bills to each of these providers and still not getting the care that you need. Since these plans are not insurance, you would not be able to take your complaints to a bureaucrat at an insurance company or at the Department of Insurance.
Direct current primary care agreements are supposed to fill a niche in the healthcare market. The ACA is too expensive, particularly for sole proprietors. These are business people who are their business. Professional people, consultants, artists and musicians could all be sole proprietors.
Homelessness, transitional housing, low-income housing and affordable housing are obviously big problems in the state of Arizona. Currently, the Arizona House is considering a mixed bag of bills that tackle different parts of the housing problem.
Today’s video focuses on SB1471 which provides a creative funding mechanism to put up to $10 million per year in the Housing Trust Fund for homeless youth and families. There are no federal HUD funds for this population.
SB1471 sets up a process for the state of Arizona to collect capital gains taxes on sales of Arizona property owned by out of state individuals. Apparently, compliance with capital gains taxes owed by out-of-state investors is less than 30%. This bill is projected to make around $8 million of year and could go higher. If more than $10 million is collected, the excess goes into the general fund.
We heard SB1471 in Ways and Means this week, and several other housing bills related to the seriously mentally ill (SB1336), AHCCCS members, youth (SB1539), widows and the elderly (SB1383), and other vulnerable populations (SB1098) passed out of the House Health and Human Services Committee unanimously. (I am on both of these committees.)
Why is there so much need? Because the Republicans have repeatedly swept the Housing Trust Fund since the dark reign of the Tea Party began in 2011.
All of the housing bills passed out of the Senate and out of the House committees. Will they make it into law? I hope so. (There is one caveat to this hopeful housing post. A housing tax credit bill, which passed out of House Ways and Means but died, has been revived in the Senate as a striker. Affordable housing tax credit bills sound good but cost the state tens of millions of dollars over time. Direct help to people is easier and more cost effective.)
Are we done? No.
Instead of a scatter shot approach of random bills to tackle housing and homelessness, what we need is a comprehensive approach, with adequate funding to make a difference.
When your state and your Congressional district are being targeted by both major political parties and several special interest groups, the days leading up to Election Day are fast-paced as national groups and speakers come to Arizona.
Nov. 1 is a big day for political events.
Tucsonans Talk Back to McSally & Trump Jr.
As Donald Trump Jr. stumps for Congresswoman Martha McSally in Maricopa County, Tucsonans will be protesting in front of her office on Broadway Blvd. Organized by Arizona Healthcare Voters, the purpose of the rally is to call out McSally’s lies about her votes on the Affordable Care Act and on healthcare in general. Media advisory here.
As the ranking member of the Arizona House Health Committee, I am happy to be participating in this event hosted by Arizona Healthcare Voters.
The US has the most expensive and least effective healthcare insurance system when compared to other developed countries. McSally and the Republican Party want to make our already overly complicated and expensive system even more restricted and more expensive. That is going in the wrong direction.
Come on down and tell McSally what you think of her record on healthcare, health insurance, the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, Medicaid, and more.
University High students Rose Long and Grace Proebsting have been interviewing political candidates and others for their podcast on economics entitled Gosh Darn Podcast (GDP). My interview is linked below, but if you go to their Sound Cloud page, you will see interviews with other locals.)
During my interview with them we delved deep into public education, vouchers, charter schools, teacher pay, Red for Ed, tax giveaways and strategies for funding public education. Check out the interview link below.
This is the transcript of my opening remarks at the Arizona Public Health Association Conference on Oct. 3, 2018. A video of the speech is below.
It is an honor for me to address the Arizona Public Health Association, since I have a Masters in Public Health from the University of Arizona. I worked in health communication, medicine, public health and behavioral research for many years before deciding to run for the Arizona House in 2015.
In fact, it was my background in public health that prompted me to run for office. Many times since I moved to Arizona in 1981, I have found myself shouting at the radio or the TV or the newspaper or a social post about bad policy decisions made by the Arizona Legislature. Anybody else have that experience?
In the public health arena, the Legislature far too often makes short-term decisions to save a buck or make an ideological point, but in the long-term, these decisions cost money and lives. Do you remember Governor Jan Brewer’s Death Panels? Brewer knocked more than 250,000 adults off of Medicaid—including people on transplant waiting lists. That decision made national news as transplant patients began dying.
Another example of a short-term savings that caused long-term problems is the $80 million cut in childcare subsidies and preventive services for families in need. That recession-era funding sweep played a major role in Arizona’s foster care crisis. At its peak, nearly 19,000 Arizona children were in foster care. Most of those children were removed from their homes for “neglect”. Unfortunately, in Arizona, neglect is a catch-all term which could encompass anything from lack of reliable child care to drug abuse to domestic violence.
None of that $80 million in state funding for childcare has been restored. Why not? Because, of course, we have to cut taxes every year—regardless of the needs of the people.
When I ran for office in 2016, I said I wanted be your voice—the voice of the people—in the Arizona Legislature. And that is exactly what I did.
I used my voice, my votes, my amendments, and my bills to fight for the rights and wellbeing of workers, patients, teachers, students, women and the underserved.
Protecting your family…
I was a strong voice for public health and affordable access to care during the negotiations and eventual passage of both the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act and dental therapy. I also co-sponsored a bill to allow Arizonans to buy-in to Medicaid (AHCCCS). This is a potentially cheaper option for folks who are struggling with the cost of health insurance. House Democrats will be proposing it again in 2019.
On budget night 2018, I proposed an amendment to appropriate $56 million in federal child care subsidies to fill the $80 million gap left after Republicans swept the funds during the Great Recession. Arizona House Republicans voted to leave those funds unspent; Arizona is the only state in the country that didn’t use those earmarked childcare funds. (I’ll try again in 2019.) I also backed a bill for tiered reimbursement for childcare subsidies. This bill, which was signed into law, and the $56 million in subsidies would go a long way to help Arizona families and children.
Protecting your rights…
Also on budget night, at around 4 a.m., I defended the rights of pregnant homeless women to have access to abortion and abortion referrals. I have seen young homeless women with infants on the streets of Tucson. The streets are no place for adults– let alone children and babies. Because we are a state that does very little to help women once their babies have been born, I believe we should expand access to contraception and all legal medical procedures and teach medically accurate sex education in the schools.
Two years in a row, I proposed ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in Arizona. Arizona women won’t have equal pay for equal work without passage of the ERA. Overall, women are paid roughly 78 cents on the dollar compared to men. Due to the intersectionality of race, class, ethnicity and gender, African-American women, Native American women and Latinas are paid far less than white men. Latinas make roughly 55 cents per hour for every $1 earned by a white man. Tucson’s population is 41% Latino. Just think of the economic impact to our city and our region if Latinas were paid fairly and if they were offered quality education for themselves and their children. It doesn’t do our community, our state or our country to force people to live in poverty and sickness.
#RedForEd lifted the veil from our eyes and put the issue of corporate tax giveaways front and center in the fight to restore public education funding in Arizona.
As many of you are aware, the Arizona Legislature is giving away more than $13 billion in taxes every year and using only $10 billion to run the state. It is not sound fiscal policy to use accounting gimmicks and 50 fund transfers to “balance” the budget. It is no surprise that the state owes K-12 education around $1 billion. Thanks to scheduled corporate tax cuts passed by the Tea Party*, beginning in 2011, Arizona’s corporations got to keep an extra $1 billion in 2017. These corporate tax cuts continue through 2019, even though we can’t afford them.
As a result of the anger and frustration that many Tucsonans feel about the Arizona Legislature’s performance, the Stop Thief! Let’s Restore Fair Taxes Community Forum drew a standing room only crowd of diverse participants. The event was hosted by the Pima Area Labor Federation (PALF) and Progressive Democrats of America (PDA Tucson), with support from many other unions and community groups.
Heart-felt testimonies from current high school students, who explained how school budget cuts have impacted their lives and their schools, opened the forum.
LD9 Rep. Randy Friese gave a detailed presentation on tax revenue and how it has been siphoned off by special interest groups and corporate tax cuts for decades. (Video after the jump.)
My talk focused on specific tax giveaway votes in the 53rd Legislature. focused specific tax giveaway bills and the drama that swirled around the bills that passed and the ones that failed. (Video after the jump.) Excluding any votes related to budget appropriations, all of the tax giveaway votes in the 53rd Legislature were bipartisan— with Democrats and Republicans on both sides.
The Legislature’s mindset on tax giveaways shifted from January 2017– when two Progressive Democrats made a pact to vote against every tax giveaway until the schools were fully funded– to budget night in May 2018. The Progressive viewpoint was: If the state “can’t afford” to fully fund K-12 public education (due to self-imposed austerity), then we “can’t afford” to give away or excuse any more taxes until the schools are on stable footing and fully funded. Thanks to the #RedForEd movement, on budget night 2018, hundreds of teachers, parents, and supporters filled the House gallery and the Capitol lawn and demanded that public education take priority over corporate tax cuts.
As I mentioned in my talk, a thorough tax giveaway review bill and several tax reform or repeal bills were proposed in the Legislature in 2018. Unfortunately, due to the gamesmanship at the Capitol, these bills were not heard because they were proposed by Democrats: Senator Steve Farley and Reps. Mark Cardenas, Randy Friese, and Pamela Powers Hannley.
It’s time to review all of the tax cuts, tax exemptions, tax credits, tax subtractions, and other tax loopholes. Some of these tax giveaways benefit narrow interests– to the detriment of the general fund and the general public. We must determine which tax exemptions benefit the people of Arizona (like the TPT exemptions for food and prescription drugs); which ones benefit special interest groups (like gold bullion enthusiasts); which ones benefit individual corporations (like the infamous four-inch pipe); which ones we are effective and affordable; and how we can spark economic development without breaking our budget and starving all of our educational institutions, as we are now.
Several people told me that they felt hopeful after my talk because so many costly tax giveaways were stopped on a bipartisan vote. If fact, all of the tax giveaway votes were bipartisan— with Democrats and Republicans on both sides. This is why it is important to ask every candidate in the 2018 election what their stance is on tax giveaways, the #RedForEd movement, the Invest In Ed Citizens Initiative (to secure long-term funding for K-12), and the Outlaw Dirty Money Citizens Initiative. Will these candidates fight for the people or will they “take the money and run”?
LD9 House incumbents– Dr. Randy Friese and I– will be the featured speakers at the Stop Thief community forum on tax giveaways on July 31 at the IBEW Hall.
As many of you are aware, Arizona is upside down on its mortgage. Thanks to years of Republican tax cuts, our state gives away more than $13 billion in taxes and spends just $10 billion to run the state. For years, the people of Arizona believed the lie that our state is broke. Now the veil has been lifted. The people realize that our state has plenty of revenue. The problem is that the majority of our Legislators vote to give the money away–rather than spend it on much-needed services– like public education.
Austerity is a lie. Arizona has the money to fund public education. The problem is: the Legislature gives our taxes away. It’s time to end crony capitalism in Arizona.
When the Arizona budget comes up short because of the tax giveaways, loopholes, and sweetheart deals, Republicans cut funds from K-12 education, the universities, the community colleges, healthcare, and environmental protections. OR they suggest raising sales tax to fill in the budget gaps caused by tax cuts for the rich and for the corporations. (Unfortunately, some Democrats go along with more tax cuts for the powerful and more sales tax for the rest of us.)
The Arizona Legislature should be funding the People’s To-Do List– education, healthcare, infrastructure, and safety and security– not the corporate wish list.
I won’t be downtown for the birthday party because I am giving a talk on the Equal Rights Amendment on Saturday night in Tubac, but I hope you all will check out the festivities and the live music on the streetcar and along the route. Here are a few photos and a video from opening day.
Who said Tucson rolls up the sidewalks in the summer? This town is hopping with political events this summer. I hope you can make it to some of my events. Stay tuned for updates as August events are added. You can watch the Events tabs on my website or on my Facebook page or subscribe to my blog to stay up-to-date with my campaign and other community events.
July 9: Moms Demand Action Candidate Forum, 6 p.m., St. Mark’s Church, 3809 E. 3rd St. (Facebook event here.)
July 12: Midtown Legislative Meet & Greet with Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley, hosted by Merrill Eisenberg, Barbara Warren and Jenise Porter, 5-7 p.m., RSVP on Eventbrite here for home address.
July 19: LD9 Clean Elections Debate, 6 p.m., Pima Community College NW, 7600 N. Shannon Rd. (Facebook event here.)
July 20:Arizona List event for Victoria Steele (LD9 Senate), Leila Counta (TUSD Board) and Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley (LD9 House), hosted by Kim Khoury. RSVP to Claire Knipe at Arizona List (Claire@ArizonaList.org). (Facebook event here.)
July 22: Northwest Tucson Legislative Meet & Greet with Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley, hosted by Nathan Davis and Taylor Cleland, 1-3 p.m., RSVP on Eventbrite here for home address.
July 30: Last day to register to vote in the August 28 primary. (Register or change your registration here.)
July 31: Stop Thief! Let’s Restore Fair Taxes. Hosted by Progressive Democrats of America Tucson Chapter (PDA Tucson) and the Pima Area Labor Federation (PALF). 6:30 – 8 p.m. at the IBEW Hall, 750 South Tucson Blvd. Reps. Randy Friese and Pamela Powers Hannley will be speaking. (Facebook event here.)
August 28: Primary Election Day. Please vote for Dr. Randy Friese and me on or before August 28.
Every Saturday morning from now to August 25, 2018, the Powers For The People team will be canvassing around LD9. Walkers and drivers are always welcome. Just bring your hat, water, sunscreen, walking shoes and your MiniVan password. If you want to use the VAN list on paper, I will have a couple of paper turfs available. We will be carrying literature for both LD9 incumbents– Dr. Randy Friese and Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley. (Facebook event here.)