March 20, 2010

While Bart Stupak and the Catholic bishops continue to shill for the US Chamber of Commerce and health insurers with their ridiculous stand on abortion and health care reform, Arizona's Republican governor affirms what we already knew: "life" to Republicans is nothing more than a talking point.

Arizona governor Jan Brewer signed legislation today ending the CHIP program in Arizona, effectively tossing 47,000 low-income children off the insurance rolls and out of doctors' offices.

Not content to stop there, the state is also rolling back their Medicaid coverage to toss an additional 310,000 adults off the rolls, claiming the state budget is simply too stressed to handle the load, which is strange, considering the federal matching funds they sacrifice along with the state's children.

The cuts also mean the state will forgo hundreds of millions of dollars in federal matching aid, and could lose far more if Congress passes a health bill that requires states to maintain eligibility levels for the two programs.

Ms. Brewer, a Republican, has warned that more cuts will be needed if voters do not approve a referendum in May to raise the sales tax by a penny for three years, to 6.6 cents per dollar.

“Arizona is navigating its way through the largest state budget deficit in its long history,” said Ms. Brewer, a staunch conservative who said she had never previously supported a tax increase. “With my signature on this budget, the first major step to recovery has been taken.”

Let me see if I understand this. A Republican governor wants to raise the sales tax to balance the state budget, which is operating at a shortfall like most state budgets right now. Part of balancing the budget is to forgo federal funds which would boost state resources to assist with covering children. Instead, Arizona has decided those children can die or end up in emergency rooms, which will then threaten hospitals' financial solvency. If those hospitals go bankrupt, then children, adults and seniors will have no access to any medical care, which will certainly make that state more attractive to commercial interests.

This smells like a temper tantrum to me, driven by teabaggers and extremists who would shut down abortion clinics but leave those now-born children in the desert to die. What I'm not seeing is an end game. How does this end well for anyone? Senior citizens would be hurt by bankrupt providers, too, and there are plenty of them in Arizona. If Governor Brewer gets her sales tax increase, will she reinstate the childrens' insurance program?

Please, make it stop...

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