by Jim Nintzel
Christopher Conover of KUAT-TV's Arizona Illustrated gives us an update of how the federal health-care plan creates a big hole in the state budget that was approved last week because the state will be obligated to continue to provide health-care coverage to kids and poor people. Watch it after the jump.
Well, Republicans were warned that they were jumping the gun by cutting the services. Even without the new federal plan, it was a boneheaded move that was going to result in the loss of more than $1.5 billion in federal matching funds, hurt hospitals and insurance companies, and cause massive job losses in the health-care industry, which is one of the few sectors of the economy that had increased jobs in recent years.
Meanwhile, Howie reports that rather than deal with this colossal misstep, Gov. Jan Brewer wants to play political games in the courts. This week's special session isn't set to deal with the problem of restoring KidsCare; it's to establish the ability to file suit against the feds because Attorney General Terry Goddard won't take the case:
In the interim, time is limited: The budget Brewer signed into law earlier this month eliminates the Kids Care program which provides nearly free health insurance for children of the “working poor,” effective June 15. That’s designed to save $18 million.
The federal legislation, however, spells out that any state which reduces its current health programs below current levels immediately forfeits the right to future health care dollars from Washington.
Gubernatorial press aide Paul Senseman said Brewer won’t ask lawmakers to fund that $18 million now, wanting to wait to see if
Congress comes up with extra cash.
But she does want immediate legislative authority to join the lawsuit filed by more than a dozen other states challenging the authority of Congress to effectively force states to spend money they don’t have to maintain health programs. The governor said she needs that because Attorney General Terry Goddard won’t sue after concluding the federal law is legal.