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January 12th, 2010
Grijalva Calls on Gov. Brewer to Level With Arizonans About Real Costs and Benefits of Health Care Reform

Washington, DC — Gov. Jan Brewer’s recent State of the State address omitted the fact that according to a state study, the House health care reform bill would save Arizona approximately $7 billion over the next decade. Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva called on her today to level with voters before she enacts steep cuts in vital statewide programs.

“Gov. Brewer told the people of Arizona that we have tough choices ahead, and she was right,” said Grijalva, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. “But the choices we face should be made only after honestly considering our options. She told us to either accept crippling service reductions or face inevitable bankruptcy. She failed to mention that according to her own administration, systemic health care reform done the right way would go a long way to solving our budget problems.”

Brewer dismissed “oppressive health care mandates” in the speech, adding that “Washington’s alleged solution will cost Arizona another half billion dollars every year.” However, a study published last Dec. 7 by the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) found that the House version of health care reform would save the state $7 billion over the next 10 years, which she never mentioned.

Brewer said in the speech that doing the right thing means “telling hard truth even when it exacts a political cost,” but, Grijalva said, “That’s exactly what she has not done. She has not told Arizonans the hard truth about one of the most pressing political and economic issues before us. Instead, she has done the politically expedient thing for her party.”

Most alarmingly, he said, her call to repeal Prop. 204, which ensures AHCCCS eligibility for every resident making up to 100 percent of the federal poverty level, was “dead wrong.”

Grijalva said that Brewer “should not have embraced ideologically motivated government downsizing at a time when state services literally mean the difference between life and death, between eating and hunger, and between success and poverty for hundreds of thousands of residents. The Republican impulse to cut everything in sight, rather than reforming what doesn’t work and funding what does work, is a recipe for disaster.”

Brewer also said in her speech, “No government ever created a dollar of wealth or a dime of capital.” In light of that remark, Grijalva questioned her commitment to a job she seems to think is useless.

“If she truly believes governments are enemies of freedom and economic prosperity, how can she hope to solve the problems she laid out?” Grijalva asked. “Why is she telling the people of our state, who are already hard hit economically, that her government can do nothing to help?”

Instead of the governor’s message of “pain, fear and bullet-biting,” Grijalva said, the state should have heard a speech “pointing an optimistic way forward, describing proactive solutions that don’t boil down to eliminating the state government, and above all honestly describing the situation we face. Gov. Brewer wants to convince voters that the state can’t afford to do anything right, but she can only make that case by distorting the record.”

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