LB - Lamb Auto 0501 Nissan 728x90

Home | Classifieds | Place Ad | Public Notices | Galleries | Kudos | Obits | Real Estate | Subscriber Services | Villager | Health Directory | Contact Us
The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : latest news : latest news May 28, 2016

9/10/2013 2:54:00 PM
Anti-Medicaid-expansion group may fall short of petition signatures

Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX -- Organizers of a bid to block Medicaid expansion in Arizona conceded they may not have the necessary signatures on petitions to force the issue to the ballot.

"We're over 70,000,' former state Sen. Frank Antenori told Capitol Media Services on Monday. And Ron Gould, another former state senator involved in the effort, said there are last-minute efforts to gather up the petitions that have not yet been turned in.

"So it's going to be close,' Antenori said.

But Antenori said it's not simply a question of getting the 86,405 signatures legally required to hold up enactment of the plan approved by the Legislature until voters can weigh in at the next election. He acknowledged it's not unusual for a third or more of signatures on petitions to be declared invalid for various reasons, such as a person not registered to vote.

"It's probably going to be tough to ward off a decent challenge,' Antenori said.

Meanwhile, a separate referendum challenging various changes in election laws approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature appears on track to qualify. That group has scheduled a press conference for Wednesday afternoon to turn in its signatures.

"We know we're over 100,000' said Julie Erfle who is chairing that effort. "That's all we're saying right now.'

But Erfle said she is "very, very confident we'll be on the ballot.'

Money appears to be a key difference.

The bid to force a public vote on the election law changes was fueled by donations of more than $300,000, enabling it to gather the signatures it needed.

By contrast, the Medicaid expansion measure had been premised on using a network of volunteers, drawn from the ranks of Republican Party workers, to get the signatures. It was not until late last month that the organization got its first -- and only -- large donation: $20,000 from the Tea Party Patriots.

At the same time, backers of Medicaid expansion raised more than $350,000 from business interests and hospitals to block the referendum. Their tactics included hiring people to circulate their own petitions promoting a larger Medicaid program even though those petition have no legal force or effect.

Antenori said that maneuver left his group few people available to circulate referendum petitions even after he got some money.

The fight is over a measure pushed through the Legislature by Gov. Jan Brewer to impose what amounts to a tax on hospitals to bring 300,000 or more into the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System.

Arizona currently provides care for most individuals below the federal poverty level, about $19,530 a year for a family of three. That amounts to about 1.3 million residents, with the federal government picking up about two-thirds of the cost.

Several years ago, though, the state stopped enrolling single adults in the program even if they were otherwise qualified.

Since that time Congress has approved the Affordable Care Act. It provides generous federal subsidies to states that expand coverage to 138 percent of the poverty level.

The legislation both expands eligibility and restores coverage for the single adults who have been shut out of the program using those hospital taxes. The hospitals went along after being shown figures by the Brewer administration that they would gain more cash than the tax paid by having more patients with insurance and fewer unable to pay their bills.

Foes contend the federal dollars are unsustainable, saying the state will be stuck with the entire burden when Washington defaults.

The measure does have a "circuit breaker' scaling back the program if federal funding drops below 80 percent of the cost. But opponents say that is insufficient to protect against political pressure to maintain coverage.

Others opposed to the law have different concerns, including some who have labeled the whole federal program "socialized medicine.'

Even if the referendum fails, another hurdle awaits.

A provision of the Arizona Constitution requires that any increase in taxes or revenues to the state must be approved by at least a two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate.

The expansion plan did not get that margin. But supporters and Gov. Jan Brewer contend that the levy on hospitals is simply an "assessment' crafted by AHCCCS and not a tax.

That is virtually certain to be challenged in court.

Getting that legal issue resolved is crucial: The expanded program is supposed to kick in on Jan. 1.

A third referendum designed to kill a plan to increase in school bonding capacity already has fallen by the wayside. Organizer Wes Harris said he was relying on the same volunteer circulators carrying the Medicaid referendum petitions.

"It's kind of hard to get people to sign two things,' he said.

ICT - Lamb Auto 0501 Nissan 180x150

    Most Viewed     Recently Commented
•   Marana man suffers skull injury, brain bleed following ATV crash (3260 views)

•   What's hot in Verde Valley job market? (3159 views)

•   Cornville man charged with child molestation seeks plea (3052 views)

•   Man arrested on numerous charges after crashing stolen motorcycle (2396 views)

•   Blaze erupts from panel van at gas station (2325 views)

Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, September 13, 2013
Article comment by: Nope Nothing

Not the block AHCCCS expansion. Not the block on Republican election law revisions. Not the block school bond increases.

Posted: Friday, September 13, 2013
Article comment by: Mary Jane

It sure seems as if the citizens of Arizona are on to the Republicans and their self-serving, unconstitutional activities.

I can't imagine why Arizonans don't want any part of the Republican attempts to enslave the electorate.

Posted: Friday, September 13, 2013
Article comment by: I Haven't Seen One

I usually see someone at the grocery stores or the library. Haven't seen anyone for this one.

Posted: Thursday, September 12, 2013
Article comment by: Slater Slater

I support the Expansion.

Posted: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Article comment by: Maybe I Missed Something

Wasn't looking for one!

Posted: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Article comment by: Seems like 70,000

might be all the signatures the anti-Obama crowd can muster, since 70,000 roughly represents the number of people who have some form of Health Insurance in the minimum-wage economy of right-wing Arizona.

Posted: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Article comment by: Mary Heartman

Strange. I haven't seen a single petition. Has anyone else around here?

Article Comment Submission Form
Comments are not posted immediately. Submissions must adhere to our Use of Service Terms of Use agreement. Rambling or nonsensical comments may not be posted. Comments are limited to Facebook character limits. In order for us to reasonably manage this feature we may limit excessive comment entries.
Submit an Article Comment
First Name:
Last Name:
Anti-SPAM Passcode Click here to see a new mix of characters.
This is an anti-SPAM device. It is not case sensitive.

Advanced Search

HSE - We want to hear from you
HSE - Father Son Look a Like Contest
HSE - Readers Choice 300x100
Find more about Weather in Cottonwood, AZ
Click for weather forecast

Submission Links
 •  Submit your feedback about our site

Find It Features Blogs Celebrate Submit Extras Other Publications Local Listings
Classifieds | Place Ad | Galleries | Kudos | Real Estate | Subscriber Services | e-News | RSS | Site Map | Find Verde Jobs | Contact Us
LB - Lamb Auto 0501 Nissan 728x90

© Copyright 2016 Western News&Info, Inc.® The Verde Independent is the information source for Cottonwood and Verde Valley area communities in Northern Arizona. Original content may not be reprinted or distributed without the written permission of Western News&Info, Inc.® Verde News Online is a service of WNI. By using the Site, ®, you agree to abide and be bound by the Site's terms of use and Privacy Policy, which prohibit commercial use of any information on the Site. Click here to submit your questions, comments or suggestions. Verde News Online is a proud publication of Western News&Info Inc.® All Rights Reserved.

Software © 1998-2016 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved