We are now through five weeks of the current legislative session; this coming week, Week #6, all bills must be heard in committee in order to “stay alive” in the legislative process. The committee agendas will be long, but it is important to pay attention, as there are some terrible bills that should be stopped, and some quality bills that we would like to see passed out of committee.
As ranking member of the House Health and Human Services Committee, I am responsible for keeping members of my caucus informed on potential legislation impacting health. Unfortunately, the bills I introduced that would have made a real difference in the lives of Arizonans by increasing access to quality, affordable health care were not included on any of this session's agendas, which are set at the sole discretion of the Committee Chairperson.
- HB2596 would have doubled the number of children eligible for affordable insurance through KidsCare by simply raising the income eligibility limit to the U.S. median level. Arizona has the third worst rate of uninsured children, and HB2596 would have provided the opportunity for up to 30,000 new families to obtain quality, low cost coverage at a cost of just $11 million to our state.
- HB2427 would have allowed individuals the option to purchase comprehensive insurance, using their own money, through our state’s Medicaid program.
- HB2788 would have required all Arizona insurers to issue a health insurance policy providing essential benefits and comprehensive protections despite any diagnosis of a preexisting condition. Additionally, HB2788 would have addressed premium costs by requiring premium rate controls. Interestingly, there is a Republican bill that is still “alive” that addresses coverage of preexisting conditions, but Republic columnist Robert Robb calls it “an empty gesture.”
I am pleased that “mirror” bills of a measure I first introduced in the House four years ago to provide dental benefits for pregnant women receiving health care through AHCCCS have passed unanimously out of the Senate Health Committee as SB1170 and out of the House Health Committee as HB2727. I hope the majority party leadership continues to allow these important public health bills to move through the system. I will update you.
I will also keep you informed on the majority party’s troubling push to continue to expand education vouchers, restrict voter rights, irresponsibly limit state revenue, and restrict rights of various groups of people by preventing cities and towns from directly addressing problems in their own communities.
Even though the 2018 elections brought us just one vote short of a bipartisan 30-30 tie in the State House (with the election of four additional Democrats, including Rep. Aaron Lieberman in LD28!), the majority party is still very much in charge at all levels. As you know, the bills they allow to have hearings, and those they choose not to debate, clearly establish their agenda for our state's future. That can change, of course, this November.
My priority continues to be fully funding public education, increasing access to affordable, quality healthcare, keeping our families safe, and strengthening our economy by investing in economic opportunities and infrastructure. It is so important that you stay engaged in both the activity at the state capitol and in the campaigns this year for control of our state legislature.
My ability to win re-election to the State House is essential. I hope you will support my campaign, either as a donor or a volunteer -- or both! I still need petition signatures to qualify for the ballot too.
Thank you! I appreciate your help.
State Representative, District 28
(602) 509-2790 cell