Ducey trying to have it both ways on health care

23 Mar 2017 06:18 pm
Posted by: Donna

smirking ducey

One of the more tedious but hard-to-shake obsessions in politics is the fetish for consistency, whereby it’s viewed a weakness for a politician to change their mind or admit they were wrong about something, even when presented with an abundance of evidence for why they should change their view. It most famously did “flip flopper” John Kerry in back in 2004. So on a certain level I can understand why Arizona Governor Doug Ducey is loath to backpedal on the fierce opposition to all things Obama, including the Affordable Care Act, he has maintained since he burst upon the political scene here in 2010.

But dude is flopping about so badly on this it’s difficult to take him seriously. He’s against Trump’s bill because it’s not conservative enough but also because it’s…uh…too conservative.

The governor late Tuesday repeated his stance that “Obamacare” needs to be repealed. And he wants some replacement in place before it disappears.

But Ducey said the proposal being pushed by U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan is not ready for prime time.

“I have concerns with the bill as it’s written today,” the governor said. If nothing else, he said the plan is too rigid.

“I’m advocating with the White House, with the Secretary of Health and Human Services for a plan that gives Arizona flexibility, that brings back our insurance market and allows us to benefit from an improvement in our health care law,” Ducey said.

That issue of “flexibility” goes to previous efforts by the Ducey administration to include some cost-savings requirements in the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state’s Medicaid program.

For example, Ducey sought federal permission to impose work requirements on some Medicaid recipients and kick them out of the program after five years. …

…And after 2020 there is no specific federal funding for expanded coverage. Instead states will be given block grants in a yet-to-be-determined amount to decide how to spend the dollars.

That possibility worries the governor.

“I don’t want to see anybody have the rug pulled out from underneath them,” Ducey said. “And that’s what I’m going to be advocating for.”

The governor said he’s confident that what got introduced won’t be what emerges.

“I think you’re going to see a different bill if it does get out of the House, if it does get out of the Senate, than the bill you see today,” he said. Ducey said he and other governors intend to be “a positive, constructive part of the process.”

That garbled mess of positions is a cry for help from a Republican who knows he’s up for reelection in a midterm year.


Connie Dotts is a big fan of her insurance.

“I like that we can choose our own doctors,” says the 60-year-old resident of Mesa, Ariz. “They also have extensive mental health coverage.”

Dotts isn’t on some pricey plan, either. She’s among the nearly 2 million people enrolled in Medicaid in Arizona and one of the more than 400,000 who have signed up since the Republican-led state expanded Medicaid in 2013.

Her eight prescription drugs are cheap, Dotts says, and she has no copays or premiums. The Medicaid benefits have allowed her to stay on top of her emphysema, depression and osteoarthritis.

Arizona Democrats have an abiding faith that someday their focus on public education will one day be recognized and rewarded by the voters. That’s something I’m fairly skeptical of, given how voters love to tell pollsters they care about the schools but aren’t really that motivated to vote to fully fund them if they don’t have students in their household.

Messing with older white people’s health care, though? Different story. That could have electoral consequences for Republicans all the way down the ticket in 2018. Bigly. This demographic was convinced to deal Democrats a bloodbath in 2010 on the (false) claim that President Obama was stealing money from Medicare to put into so-called Obamacare (in the days before it was okay for our side to call it that). Imagine what they’ll do when their actual health care costs go up thousands because of Trump and a GOP Congress.

Ducey is right to be nervous but shouldn’t get away with trying to work both sides of the issue – harsh enough for the Freedom Caucus but compassionate enough for normal people. What he proposes as “improvements” to Trump’s bill will pull the rug out from under a lot of people, in particular people like Connie Dotts, not quite Medicare-eligible but having the kind of health issues that could make a work requirement and lifetime cap of five years a real problem.

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