PHOENIX — Republican legislators who have received backlash from fellow
conservatives for approving the state’s expansion of Medicaid easily outraised
their colleagues and rivals last year, according to the latest
figures reported by the Arizona Capitol Times.
The newspaper reports some Republican
incumbent lawmakers generated thousands of dollars in campaign contributions
from the health-care industry. Campaign finance reports show most GOP lawmakers who backed the expansion
collected nearly $1 million combined. Some started off this
year with more than $850,000 in their campaign coffers.
The Arizona Medical Association, Blue Cross-Blue Shield and the Arizona
Hospital and Healthcare Association are among the health-care-related
organizations listed as contributors, according to the financial reports.
Vanguard Health Management gave as much as $2,000 each to some of the lawmakers.
District-level GOP leadership has criticized these legislators for their
support of Gov. Jan Brewer’s decision to expand eligibility to the Arizona
Health Care Containment Cost System (AHCCCS.) The pro-expansion group got
another boost when a Maricopa County Superior Court judge dismissed a lawsuit
challenging Brewer’s plan, according to a ruling released Saturday. The lawsuit
was filed by members of the GOP.
Judge Katherine Cooper agreed with Brewer that the lawmakers challenging the
law don’t have the right to sue. Furthermore, Cooper said their argument, that a
hospital assessment included in House Bill 2010 that passed in June was a tax
that required a supermajority vote of the Legislature, was incorrect.
Brewer spokesman Andrew Wilder called the court ruling “a huge victory.”
“Judge Cooper’s ruling is thoughtful and legally sound,” Wilder said in a
statement. “As a result, the state can move forward with implementing the
Governor’s Medicaid Restoration Plan without further distraction of litigation,
thereby restoring cost-effective health care to tens of thousands of Arizonans
through AHCCCS, and honoring the will of voters.”
Chris Herstam, a lobbyist whose clients include the Arizona State Board of
Nursing and Banner Health, said the fundraising figures show the anti-expansion
attitude is primarily within tea party groups.
“Their supporters are clearly sending a message to the tea party that these
pragmatic Republicans deserve to be re-elected and will fight hard in their
campaigns,” Herstam said.
Christine Bauserman, a tea party activist who led an effort in 2013 to put the
Medicaid-expansion law as a referendum on this year’s ballot, said the high
amount of funds raised wouldn’t intimidate candidates and conservatives from
continuing their efforts.
“The army to walk and knock on doors exists on our side,” Bauserman said.
“The people want a voice. They are demanding representation.”
Information from: Arizona Capitol Times, http://www.arizonacapitoltimes.com