Tag Archives: goldwater institute

Brewer

Brewer will let feds run health exchange for Ariz.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has decided against creating a state-run health insurance exchange to implement a key part of President Barack Obama’s federal health care law.

Brewer’s decision announced Wednesday means the federal government will set up an online marketplace for the state, offering subsidized private health coverage to the middle class. The governor reiterated her unwavering opposition to the health care overhaul, and said there were too many costs and questions associated with a state-run 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,” she said in a statement.

Brewer joins other Republican governors in such states as Texas and Maine who have balked at creating state-run exchanges, although others in Nevada and New Mexico have opted to proceed. She sent a federal official a one-page letter conveying her decision.

Her announcement preceded a Dec. 14 deadline for states to declare whether they’d run their own exchanges.

A decision to create an exchange would have been subject to approval by the Republican-led state Legislature. Though the Nov. 6 election results reduced the size of Republicans’ majorities in the state House and Senate, a Brewer push to create a state-run exchange would have faced a fight from GOP lawmakers who oppose the law.

An alliance of hospitals, insurance companies and business groups wanted Arizona to have a state-run exchange, arguing that it would increase coverage while giving the state flexibility in designing a program to its liking.

Conservative advocacy groups such as the Goldwater Institute stood in opposition. They said Arizona shouldn’t help implement a law that could foist new expenses on the state and raise health insurance prices for residents.

Senate President-designate Andy Biggs said he appreciated Brewer’s thoughtful deliberation.

“Any exchange run by Arizona would still include an inappropriate imposition by the federal government on our state,” the Republican lawmaker said.

“State control is a mirage,” agreed Sen. Nancy Barto, a Republican who heads the Senate’s health committee.

The incoming Senate minority leader, Democrat Leah Landrum Taylor, said Brewer’s decision was a “missed opportunity to establish health care solutions that are tailor-made for the unique needs of the state.”

House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, a Democrat, said Brewer’s decision was grandstanding that reflected “an extremist agenda.”

Brewer’s administration spent two years planning for a possible exchange, accepting federal grants totaling approximately $31 million to pay for the advance work.

The grant money is paid to the state to reimburse it for costs, Brewer spokesman Matthew Benson said. Most of the money remains unspent and available to pay for costs for working with the federal government on its creation of an exchange, he said.

As part of that planning, Brewer in September selected a minimum benefits package for a state-run exchange based on current insurance coverage for state employees. She noted in a Sept. 28 letter to the Obama administration that the package she chose excludes abortion coverage.

On another implementation issue with state versus federal considerations, Brewer has decided it would be better to have the state run its own program to review health insurance rates, rather than leave that to the federal government. The state has formally approved rules for a rate-review program.

Brewer still must decide whether to expand eligibility for the state’s Medicaid program as called for by the law.

Brewer

Brewer faces choice on Arizona health exchange

Gov. Jan Brewer is being pulled one way by major business groups and another by fellow conservatives as she faces a fast-approaching deadline to decide whether to implement a key part of the federal health care law.

The decision, due Friday, will determine if Arizona creates a state-run, online marketplace for consumers to use when choosing health plans, or lets the federal government create and run a so-called “exchange” for the state.

Brewer is among the Republican governors who oppose the law, but she has yet to indicate what course she’ll take.

Down the road, Brewer will face an equally hot-potato decision on whether to expand the state’s Medicaid program — another key aspect of the health care law.

Brewer’s administration has spent millions of dollars of federal grant money on planning and preliminary work for creating a health exchange.

Republican legislators and conservatives such as the Goldwater Institute say the requirement for an exchange is an infringement on the rights of states and individuals.

Meanwhile, a coalition of business groups wants Brewer to create a state exchange so Arizona has a say in in its design and funding.

“If we retain that control, we’re better able to customize and tweak and make adjustments,” said Pete Wertheim, a vice president of the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association.

Brewer already has selected a minimum benefits package for a state-run exchange based on current insurance coverage for state employees. She noted in a Sept. 28 letter to the Obama administration that the package excludes abortion coverage.

Brewer has said her administration has done a lot of planning to be prepared but also indicated she was still studying the issue and hadn’t made a decision.

“I’ve got to decide (whether) it’s the right thing for Arizona,” Brewer said while noting she will need legislative approval.

It’s clear that establishing a state-run exchange would put Brewer at odds with many Republicans in the Legislature, with no assurance that she would win the necessary approval.

“I don’t believe there are the votes in the House to pass something like this, so I don’t think this is going to go anywhere,” said House Appropriations Chairman John Kavanagh, a critic of the health care law and its penalties on some employers who don’t provide coverage to workers.

Senate Health Committee Chairman Nancy Barto offered a similar assessment of legislative leanings but said Brewer’s office “at least on the exchange seems committed to take a chance on Obamacare.”

“I would hope she wouldn’t do it without consideration of her party,” Barto said. “She has a record of standing up to the federal government and standing up for her party’s ideals, and this is a big part of that discussion.”

Proposing a state-run exchange wouldn’t be the first time Brewer has defied the wishes of most GOP lawmakers on a politically dicey issue.

After a year of trying, she was able to get lawmakers to put a temporary sales tax increase on a statewide ballot. Voters overwhelmingly approved it in 2010 to avoid deep cuts to schools and other services during the state’s budget crisis.

Brewer spokesman Matthew Benson declined to discuss what legislators’ “potential appetite” would be for having a state-run exchange.

On a related health care law issue with similar state-vs.-federal considerations, Brewer decided it was better to have the state run its own program to review health insurance rates than let the federal government handle it. The state has formally approved rules for a rate-review program.

Regarding the exchange, Brewer health policy adviser Don Hughes has said the governor wants to impose as few regulations and requirements on insurers as possible so it doesn’t turn into a duplicative regulator of the industry.

Conservative groups such as the Goldwater Institute and Americans for Prosperity are calling for Brewer to stiff-arm the federal law’s mandate for an exchange. Meanwhile, social-service advocacy groups are weighing in with calls for the state to create an exchange that is friendly to consumers on affordability, convenience and oversight.

“We’re optimistic that consumers will have influence in the design of it,” said Stephen Jennings, an AARP Arizona associate director.

Goldwater Institute

Goldwater Institute Moves Forward With Challenge To Healthcare Law

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the 2010 federal health care law’s individual mandate opens the door for legal challenges to other aspects of the law to move forward. The Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute will immediately move ahead with its lawsuit challenging the Independent Payment Advisory Board, the law’s price-setting board.

The Goldwater Institute’s challenge, Coons v. Geithner, is the only case in the country specifically aimed at the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a 15-person presidentially appointed panel that will set Medicare policy and health care payment rates without the possibility of judicial review or the right for patients to appeal its decisions. Coons v. Geithner has been on hold in federal court pending the outcome of the Supreme Court decision.

The Institute is challenging the Independent Payment Advisory Board under the separation of powers doctrine. Unlike any other federal commission, IPAB won’t have to follow the basic steps for adopting and enforcing administrative rules. The Board’s annual payment schedules and policy proposals can’t be examined by the courts and automatically will become law unless amended by Congress through a difficult and complex procedure. Finally, the Board has been made unrepealable by Congress expect for a two-week window in 2017. If Congress were to approve a repeal of the Board in 2017, following the complex process allowed in the health care law, that repeal automatically would be delayed until 2020.

“Protecting any new federal agency from being repealed by Congress appears to be unprecedented in the history of the United States,” said Clint Bolick, vice president of litigation at the Goldwater Institute. “No possible reading of the Constitution supports the idea of an unelected, standalone federal board that’s untouchable by both Congress and the courts and we will pursue this challenge all the way back to the Supreme Court if necessary.”

If IPAB is allowed to stand, Bolick said, then the idea of checks and balances between the branches of government means nothing.

To learn more about the Goldwater Institute’s work in this area, visit at goldwaterinstitute.org/article/coons-v-geithner-federal-health-care-lawsuit.

Goldwater Institute - Phoenix Coyotes

Goldwater Institute Seeks To Stop Coyotes Vote

A conservative watchdog group, Goldwater Institute, plans to ask a judge for a temporary restraining order Friday to prevent a Glendale City Council vote on a lease agreement that would clear the way for the sale of the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes.

The Goldwater Institute said Thursday that its request will be filed at 8:30 a.m. Friday in Maricopa County Superior Court. The institute bases its request on its contention that the city violated the Arizona open meetings law by failing to make public all documents related to the lease.

The seven-member council is scheduled to convene at 10:15 a.m. Friday to vote on a lease that would pay prospective owner Craig Jamison $17 million a year for arena operation costs and other items. The NHL has owned the team for three seasons after buying it in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Goldwater officials said they question the timing of the council’s vote.

“The city of Glendale plans to consider what is estimated to be a $425 million arena management deal for Jobing.com Arena,” Goldwater Institute president Darcy Olsen said in a statement. “Arizona’s Open Meetings Law and multiple court orders require the city to make public all documents related to the proposed contract at least 24 hours before a council vote is taken, which it has not done.

“The 100-page deal released on Monday refers to a number of exhibits that are central to analyzing the impact of the deal on Glendale’s finances, which the city must make public,” Olsen added.

Messages left with officials with Glendale and the Coyotes for comment on the Goldwater Institute’s planned action weren’t immediately returned Thursday night.

A proposed sale of the Coyotes last year to Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer was derailed by the threat of a lawsuit by the Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute.

The threat held up the city’s sale of bonds necessary to fill the requirements of the lease agreement reached with Hulsizer. The watchdog group argued that Glendale’s deal with Hulsizer violated the state’s anti-subsidy law.

The NHL bought the Coyotes out of bankruptcy in September 2009 with the intention of finding a buyer to keep the team in Arizona. The franchise never has made a profit since moving from Winnipeg in 1996.

This year, the Coyotes won the final five games of the regular season to capture their first division title in 33 years as an NHL franchise. They got past the first round of the playoffs for the first time in 25 years by beating Chicago and then defeated Nashville before losing to Los Angeles in the Western Conference finals.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced before Game 5 of Phoenix’s second-round series with Nashville that the league had reached a preliminary agreement to sell the team to a group headed by Jamison, a former San Jose Sharks CEO. But the deal hinged on working out a lease agreement with Glendale.

For more information on the Goldwater Institute visit their website at goldwaterinstitute.org.

goldwater institute

Goldwater Institute Seeks Injunction Against Police Union Release Time

Arguing that release time “diverts precious resources from the core public safety mission to ‘union business,’” the Goldwater Institute today asked the Maricopa County Superior Court to enjoin provisions that allow the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA) to use thousands of hours of police time — including six full-time positions — for its own purposes.

The Goldwater Institute represents two Phoenix taxpayers, William Cheatham and Marcus Huey, who allege that this use of their tax dollars violates the Arizona Constitution’s Gift Clause, which forbids subsidies to private entities. In a previous lawsuit, the Goldwater Institute successfully argued in the Arizona Supreme Court that subsidies to private developers are unconstitutional.

The City estimates the annual cost of release time for the police union at $1 million. The City’s practice of giving release time to its seven public employee unions was documented last September in a Goldwater Institute investigative report by Mark Flatten. The Legislature, which previously acted to prohibit release time by school districts, is considering a bill that would largely curtail the practice by municipalities.

In a document exchanged in its secret negotiations with PLEA over the current police contract, the City argued that release time provisions reduce “funds available for mission critical functions that provide a direct benefit to the citizens of Phoenix,” and they provide “taxpayer funding to decrease the efficiency of City Government.” Although the union provides representation to officers in official proceedings, release time also is used for lobbying—sometimes contrary to the City’s own positions — and can be used for union office staffing, collecting petition signatures for ballot measures, and any other purposes the union deems “legitimate Association business.”

Full-time release positions report to work at the union headquarters rather than the Police Department. The current PLEA president, Joe Clure, has been on release time for 14 years. He and the other full-time release positions collect full salary and benefits, qualify for pensions, and receive automatic overtime despite performing union business full-time. The City does not require officers to report what they do on release time.

“Paying city staffers to perform union business is an illegal scam,” declared Clint Bolick, the Goldwater Institute’s vice president for litigation and lead lawyer in the case. “What’s worse, the diversion of police officers to union business threatens public safety. It’s time this scheme came to an end.”

The City currently is negotiating a new contract with PLEA. The Goldwater Institute argues in its motion that an injunction would provide important guidance to City officials to help them conform future public employee contracts to the Arizona Constitution.

Arizona School Choice Trust

Arizona School Choice Trust, Tax Credit Gives Students Hope

The mission of Arizona School Choice Trust is to provide hope and opportunity to Arizona’s neediest children. We need your help to continue to provide educational options to these desperate families. Corporations can be a part of our amazing success stories by participating in Arizona’s Corporate Tax Credit Program. Corporations with an Arizona corporate income tax or insurance premium tax liability can redirect up to 100 percent of their tax liability to Arizona School Choice Trust and receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for their contribution. The process to enroll is very simple, and it costs nothing to participate — but it makes all the difference to families across Arizona.

One grateful scholarship recipient, Jorge, recently spoke at the Arizona capitol about his experience in the program.  He called the opportunities he has received “life transforming.” His mother Lydia added, “the education provided with generous tax credit contributions has allowed Jorge to reach his true potential.”

Another story of a life touched by School Choice is told by foster parent Carol. Anthony spent the first years of his life in poverty, even experiencing homelessness. Carol says, “Thank you to the many donors who have found it in their hearts to give children like Anthony an opportunity for a better life.”

Our success stories are the reason we are so dedicated to School Choice. We believe that every child deserves the chance to reach their potential. Arizona School Choice Trust scholarships make that possible.

Arizona School Choice Trust is leading the way with new and innovative outreach to the community. In addition to working closely with school choice leaders statewide, we were proud to participate in one of the largest school choice celebrations in the nation.

One highlight of School Choice Week 2012 was a Congressional Town Hall held on January 24th. It was a great opportunity for supporters, educators and children alike to hear directly from their representatives in Washington DC. Participating in the event were Congressman Trent Franks, Congressman Ben Quayle, Congressman David Schweikert and Congressman Jeff Flake. The Congressmen answered questions posed by moderator Jonathan Butcher, Goldwater Institute’s education director, and Lisa Graham Keegan, former Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction. Attendees voiced strong support for expanded school choice options and encouraged their representatives to continue fighting on behalf of Arizona’s children.

To watch videos from this town hall, or to learn more about Arizona School Choice Trust, visit asct.com. Here, you can learn more here about how your corporation can participate in the growing school choice movement as well.