Strong hospital and insurance lobbies have long strived to block efforts in the state to give consumers more information about what health care services cost. Just last year, there was a bill at the legislature to require hospitals to provide the relative costs of services to a database that would allow consumers to discern high cost versus lower cost providers in the market and therefore make more informed decisions about their healthcare.
House Bill 2603 would have
been particularly helpful for businesses and organizations that are
self-insured and engineering their networks for employee insurance plans. Armed with even just the weighted average
payor rate and the annual rate of growth would have facilitated major shifts in
behavior by these more sophisticated insurance plan architects, forcing
premiums down over time and saving the end user money.
This bill was killed last
year by the healthcare lobby in the legislature.
Just a couple months after, President
Trump filed his executive order requiring Health and Human
Services set regulations requiring the disclosure of the secret rates insurers
pay hospitals. Since then his
administration has been promulgating
rules to prevent “surprise billing” as well as requiring
hospitals to share the discounts they give cash-paying patients.
This isn’t the only step
Trump has taken to administratively unwind the massive red tape of the
the summer of 2018, they loosened rules to allow for short term
health plans. A measure Republicans
in Arizona in the 2019 legislative session.
What Trump understands that
Republican lawmakers should learn in Arizona – is without a repeal of Obamacare
– policymakers must find alternative ways to empower choice and
flexibility in the marketplace.
Without incremental changes
that put consumers in the drivers’ seat, the ratchet will only turn more toward
government run, single-payer healthcare, accompanied by the price controls and
rationed care that comes with it.
Luckily, Arizona lawmakers
will have an opportunity to redeem themselves next session when an updated
version of HB 2603 will be introduced. We will see once again who supports
price transparency and who will carry the water for the healthcare lobby.
With the 2020 elections
looming, healthcare is on the mind of voters.
Absent a major righting of the ship in the way of repealing Obamacare,
Republicans must provide market and consumer-driven solutions to lower costs
and increase choice and quality. The
President has the right idea. Hopefully lawmakers
in Arizona continue to follow his lead.
Here is an under-reported education fact: K-12 schools in Arizona have received over $1 Billion in new funding from the state over the last two years. This infusion of cash is the largest education spending increase in state history, boosting per pupil funding by 20 percent. Even adjusting for inflation, we are now back to the pre-recession funding levels for education last reached in 2008, which was the previous high water mark for K-12 spending by the state.
would hope that our policymakers are keeping close tabs on this massive
expansion of funding and scrutinizing how our tax dollars are being spent. Instead,
it appears that state lawmakers are preparing to skip this step and commit more
dollars to K-12, no questions asked.
this attitude will change with news that the largest school district in the
state decided to use their K-12 funding boost to go on an administration spending spree:
as teachers were canvassing neighborhoods, fighting to pass a budget override
in the state’s largest school district, new documents reveal Mesa Public
Schools Governing Board members were handing out hefty bonuses and spending
record amounts on administration in the district’s front office.
documents and memoranda obtained by ABC15 show the district’s administrative
spending soared more than 42 percent from 2018 to 2019, exceeding its own
budget by more than three-quarters of a million dollars.
new revelations about administrative spending come just a day after the governing
board voted to put Superintendent Ember Conley on administrative leave, signaling
it is parting ways with the district’s leader, who has only been on the job
since March of 2018. The board is expected to buy out the remainder of her
contract – a cost which is expected to exceed $500,000.”
large chunk of the payouts went toward bonuses to employees close to embattled
Superintendent Ember Conley. Twelve members of her executive team received
$22,500 bonuses, while several others had large amounts put into tax sheltered
insult to injury is all of this largesse occurred behind the scenes while the
district actively pushed for more funding through a budget override. Voters in the East Valley are outraged
and one ex-school board member has filed a criminal complaint with the Attorney General’s office to
investigate the matter.
deserve answers, but it’s unclear if they will ever get any. At last week’s district meeting, the Mesa
school board refused to discuss why Superintend Conley was placed on
leave, and provided no explanation as to why the district spending spree was
hidden from the public. They did, however, attempt to defend the payouts and
declared that exceeding the approved administration budget wasn’t really an
lack of candor isn’t surprising given the current political environment
surrounding K-12 funding. There is tremendous hubris among the education establishment,
based on the belief that policymakers are afraid to hold them accountable.
is how you end up with several education groups openly bickering on what tax hikes (sales, property,
income, all of the above?) to send to the ballot in 2020. It appears they have concluded
it is politically unnecessary to explain how the additional $20,000 per
classroom provided by the state has been spent or justify why a tax increase is
required given the news that Arizona has amassed a $500 Million (and growing)
budget surplus for next year.
only way this cycle ends is if Governor Ducey and the State Legislature send a
clear signal that future K-12 appropriations will be tied to results,
accountability and reform. If they don’t, then taxpayers should expect more
demands for additional education spending and higher taxes with no explanations
or expectations that it is being used wisely.