The COVID-19 pandemic has been with us for a year now, and in that time, there’s been little to get excited about. Many restaurants and small businesses have been decimated. Emergency orders have been abused across the state and country. And we all know the impact it’s had on kids in school.
But amid this great adversity, not all has been lost. Some things have emerged as great values to our society. One of those is telehealth.
Right now is the perfect time to leverage what we’ve learned and remove any barriers to this great service. And so far, it seems that our state is headed that way.
Momentum is building at the legislature for Arizona to once again lead on health care reform, this time by seeking legislation to make permanent Governor Ducey’s emergency executive order that allows Arizona residents to obtain telehealth services from practitioners licensed in any of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Preventing telehealth to consumers has been outdated for years, especially given the fact that licensing requirements for medical professionals are nearly identical across all 50 states. Furthermore, as pointed out by Cato Senior Fellow Dr. Jeff Singer, out-of-state providers would still be required to follow all state laws and regulations, meaning the standard for care will be the same for patients whether or not the medical professional resides in the state or not.
And Governor Ducey backs this up in his 2021 Policy Priorities stating, “If it’s safe and it works during a pandemic, we should embrace it when we’re not in an emergency as well.”
Unfortunately, some Democrats are already trying to put up a barrier to telehealth. They want to prevent the people of Arizona from accessing providers out of state.
But there is no good reason to deny someone the ability to use this service. The benefits are far too great.
By simply allowing telehealth services from all 50 states and Washington, D.C., the people of Arizona would gain access to the best available medical professionals across the country. Think about what that could mean for your health care.
Plus, you would save both time and money by not traveling to and from a doctor’s office or waiting for an appointment. That’s right. No more awkwardly paging through a magazine that’s 3 months old while you wait for your lab results. If you don’t need an in-person consultation for your health issue, just sign on your computer, attend your appointment, and get back to doing the things you really love.
In addition to these benefits, providers would be much more motivated to improve the quality of their services. And they would be more likely to look at ways to reduce their costs to make sure they remain competitive.
But perhaps the best part is, it’s your choice. If you don’t want to use telehealth services, you don’t have to. But why deny someone the opportunity to do so if he or she thinks it would be best?
If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that we need more consumer choice in health care. Thankfully, telehealth isn’t anything new. Just ask anyone who’s been using 1-800 Contacts for the last couple decades. But expanding its reach would provide a great benefit to the people of Arizona because telehealth puts patients first, not profits.
Now, Arizona could become the first state in the country to permanently allow licensed medical professionals from other states to provide telehealth services to its residents. We just need to help Governor Ducey convince our legislators.
Supporters of the Arizona Corporation Commission’s plan to impose the Green New Deal and ban all fossil fuels are up in arms this week. The reason? The legislature has decided to exert their constitutional authority and make it clear that they are in charge of setting energy policy for the state.
This week the Arizona House and Senate are hearing HB 2248 and SB 1175, legislation that would prohibit the Corp Comm from adopting any policy or rule regulating distributed energy without legislative authorization. Several interest groups and Green New Deal activists have signed in against the bill, and they have coalesced around one argument: legislators aren’t smart enough to handle energy policy. This is a topic that should be left up to the “experts” over at the ACC.
Just a cursory look through the comments submitted to Request to Speak, the legislative system used to register support or opposition to a bill, catalog dozens of statements ranging from condescending to insulting.
Here is just a small sample of the vitriol sent their way:
Lawmakers Are Too Dumb to Understand Energy Policy
“The ACC is independently elected to make energy decisions because they are more knowledgeable than legislators!”
“ACC, not state reps, have focus & expertise to determine energy issues.”
Apparently legislators are competent enough to decide tax policy, create the state’s budget, criminal code, and legislate on other complex issues, but when it comes to energy policy our elected legislative body is not qualified enough.
Will of the Voters! Except for the Steyer Initiative, That Doesn’t Count
“This bill proposes to disrespect the will of the voters who strongly supported Clean Energy”
“The ACC Rules being considered have been properly vetted and have strong public support. This bill is legislative overreach.”
It was only two years ago when Arizonans overwhelmingly rejected Proposition 127, a ballot measure that would have imposed Green New Deal energy mandates very similar to what is being proposed by the ACC. Voters have spoken on the issue, and it wasn’t to have the Corp Comm install a sweeping energy plan that will raise utility prices and cause rolling blackouts in the state.
Arizona Should Adopt California-Style Energy Mandates
“Clean energy is good for Arizona. It keeps electricity costs lower, consistent, predictable and reliable over the long term. Being a solar leader gives us more energy independence and control. This is not the Legislature’s job.”
California tried the same plan, and what was the result? After weeks of rolling blackouts Governor Gavin Newsom was forced to beg residents to limit the use of their appliances and turn up their air conditioning thermostats. It got so bad that Newsom suspended the closure of several natural gas power plants that were scheduled for closure.
The Legislature Needs to Butt Out and Let the ACC Run Wild
“DO YOUR WORK AND LET THE ACC DO THEIRS—READ THE CONSTITUTION!”
While the constitution does say that the Corp Comm “may prescribe… and make and enforce reasonable rules, regulations, and orders for the convenience, comfort, and safety, and the preservation of the health, of the employees and patrons,” it also makes it clear that the Legislature has the final say. In the recent Johnson Utilities court decision, Arizona Supreme Court unanimously held that the legislature’s authority over the public health and wellbeing of Arizonans “is paramount” to that of the Commission’s on matters of policy.
As HB 2248 and SB 1175 move forward, it will be interesting to see how lawmakers respond to being told that they are stupid and should stand in the corner while the Corp Comm attempts to set energy policy for the state. Hopefully it will stiffen their resolve to do the right thing: stopping the Green New Deal in Arizona.
In 2018 Arizona
Public Service spent over $30 million dollars fighting liberal billionaire (and
Democrat Presidential Candidate) Tom Steyer and his effort to impose
California-style green energy mandates on Arizona ratepayers.
They weren’t the only ones
fighting against this radical measure. Organizations and individuals from
around the state banded together to fight Prop 127 and the permanent economic
harm it would inflict on homeowners and business owners.
After learning about how Steyer’s
renewable energy plan would lead to skyrocketing utility bills, voters
Proposition 127 by a 2 to 1 margin (32-68 percent). The message was
clear: RATEPAYERS DO NOT WANT ENERGY MANDATES.
Fewer than 18 months later it
appears that both Steyer and APS have decided to ignore the will of the voters.
Late last month APS announced they are rolling out, with full
support of the environmental left and Tom Steyer, the “Arizona
Green New Deal”. Under their proposal, APS will shift to 100 percent carbon
free generation by 2050, regardless of cost, reliability or whether their
customers support the concept.
Just to explain how radical this
plan is, the Arizona Green New Deal is more extreme than the 25 percent
renewable energy mandate Steyer pitched to voters in 2018. Only this time
voters won’t get an opportunity to reject the deal since APS can implement it unilaterally
and their monopoly rate base has nowhere else to go.
APS will attempt to explain their
flip flop by saying that this is only “aspirational” and that it helps protect
and promote nuclear power in Arizona. This is utter nonsense. Make no
mistake: unless this plan is stopped it will be adopted by the Arizona
Corporation Commission and will become a mandate.
And if the Palo Verde Generating
Station is really under threat from the likes of Tom Steyer or other
anti-nuclear environmentalists, then the better approach is to pass and promote
laws to preserve the energy source. The fix should NEVER BE to saddle their
captive ratepayers with all the risk of their Green New Deal, especially given
track record of government selecting which
companies/industries in the renewable energy industry to support.
While ratepayers will be saddled
with no options and escalating utility bills, APS will be immune from the
negative impacts. As a regulated corporate utility, they are constitutionally
guaranteed a rate of return, which will be provided by the Arizona Corporation
Commission in generous profitable increments over the next 30 years.
If this is the path that existing
monopoly utility providers want to pursue, then ratepayers deserve the right to
opt out. For years there has been discussions on enacting utility
competition in Arizona and giving customers the option to
choose their own energy provider. Now is the time to press forward on this
issue. If APS wants to impose higher costs through their Green New Deal, then
they should be required to compete with other utilities offering alternative
Additionally, ratepayers need to
have legal protections to ensure that cheap, reliable energy takes precedent
over unpopular partisan politics. Since the current structure is not putting
ratepayers first, systemic reforms are necessary.
The Club urges both the
Corporation Commission and the Legislature to honor the will of the voters and
take action against the Arizona Green New Deal. Don’t let bullies like Tom
Steyer dictate energy policy in our state.
Phoenix, AZ (June
4th)–Today the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, in collaboration with the Economic
Research Center at The Buckeye Institute, released “It Ain’t Easy Being Green: A
Cost-Benefit Analysis of Electric Vehicles in Arizona.” The paper is a comprehensive study
examining the pros and cons of electric vehicle (EV) subsidies in Arizona and
whether these inducements are worth the cost to taxpayers and utility ratepayers.
analysis was conducted in response to several proposals being considered by
policymakers in Arizona to encourage more drivers to purchase EVs, including a current proposal at the Arizona Corporation
Commission to require utility companies build EV charging stations, with the
cost of these stations being passed along to all ratepayers through higher
study reveals that EVs are already heavily subsidized by taxpayers in Arizona
and that creating a new mandate for the construction of charging stations would
only exacerbate the status quo, distort the market for EV technology and redistribute
wealth to a few affluent EV car owners at the expense of every electricity user
in the state.
“After a comprehensive analysis, our research
clearly shows that—in an effort to encourage the purchase of more electric
cars—Arizonans are being over taxed to subsidize wealthy owners of electric
cars, which disproportionately hurts those who can’t afford to purchase a new
electric car. Taxpayers are seeing
little return on these subsidies, paying on average more
than $6,000 more per electric car on the road than they are realizing
in benefits over the course of five years,” said Andrew J. Kidd, Ph.D., an economist with the
Economic Research Center at The Buckeye Institute and one of the authors of “It
Ain’t Easy Being Green.” “Furthermore, if a new proposal by the
Arizona Corporation Commission is adopted, Arizonans will pay more on their
electric bills to subsidize the building of more electric charging
stations—even though there are currently 12 public chargers for every electric
car on the road in Arizona.”
Some of the other key
findings in the study include:
- A Charging Station
Mandate would act as a regressive tax on low and middle-income households to
benefit more affluent EV drivers.
- Over 83% of EV tax
credit subsidies went to households earning above $100,000. Conversely, less
than 1% of those subsidies were accessed by households below $50,000.
- In Arizona, EV car owners
pay on average $500 less each year than non-EV drivers for road maintenance.
“Mandating the construction of EV charging stations, paid for with an increase in utility rates, is both unnecessary and unfair,” said Scot Mussi, President of the Arizona Free Enterprise Club. “Taxpayers are already overpaying based on the benefits provided by Electric Vehicles. Instead of handing out another subsidy to EV drivers, policymakers should explore other options that avoid picking winners and losers among ratepayers.”
The individual health insurance market has been a roller coaster for consumers since the passage of the Affordable Care Act.
Last year, the average ACA plan rose 34 percent – pricing out many of the individuals who do not qualify for federal subsidies. Additionally, many counties across the country have lost insurers, with only one option or even no options for consumers. Younger, healthier Americans have been forced into high-risk pools to subsidize the high-costs associated with pre-existing conditions and other benefits they are likely not to need. As a result, many have opted out of full coverage at all and risk incurring the Obamacare tax penalty for not carrying insurance.
After a failure of the Senate to repeal these disastrous policies, the Trump Administration has had few options for fixing our health insurance system. However, a year ago, some progress was made on this front.
With the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in December 2017, Congress included the repeal of the tax penalty for individuals without medical coverage for policies beginning in 2019. Then in February of 2018, Trump issued an executive order allowing for the appropriate federal agencies to amend their rules regarding short-term duration health insurance.
Short-term duration insurance is not meant to qualify as full medical coverage, but instead is another insurance product available to help individuals through different periods of transition. Trump’s executive order overturned the Obama Administration’s directive to limit these plans to only 90 days. Instead they are now allowed to be issued for less than a year and may be renewed for up to three years.
These short-term plans will likely cost Americans half what the traditional ACA plan costs and the administration predicts around 600,000 people will choose these plans this year. Of the over half a million people, no more than a third are likely to leave their ACA plan; with most enrollees coming from individuals without any insurance at all.
Opponents argue the reversal of this rule will poach enrollees in the individual market. Obama’s rollback of short-term duration policies was meant to increase enrollment in the exchange. But it didn’t work. Instead, enrollment in the ACA plans decreased by 10 percent following the year of the rule change; which may have had something to do with premiums increasing by 21 percent that year.
There is a want and a need for more affordable policies that do not have all the bells and whistles of a traditional plan. Under the Obama 3-month cap of short-term policies, enrollees would have to reapply every 90 days, forcing a reset of their deductibles or sometimes a cancellation of their policy altogether. Given the short time frame, many customers would not be able to access full coverage insurance for months, until another enrollment period opened.
This rule change is good for consumers. It will dramatically expand choice and opportunity for coverage to hundreds of thousands of Americans.
Now it is up to the states to ensure these options will be available to their constituents by amending their laws to allow for greater regulatory flexibility of short-term duration plans. In Arizona, Representative Nancy Barto is sponsoring legislation to do just that. We encourage lawmakers to support this common-sense bill and allow more Arizonans to access affordable coverage.
The Arizona Free Enterprise Club announced today the 2018 Free Market Champion Award recipients. The Free Market Champion Award is given to members of the Legislature that demonstrate leadership and a commitment to free market, pro-growth policies in Arizona. This year’s award includes a picture and quote from world renowned economist and intellectual defender of property rights, Frederic Bastiat. The quote on the award reads, “Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.”
The two recipients of the Free Market Champion Award are:
- Senator Steve Smith (District 11)
- Representative Javan Mesnard (District 17)
“The Free Enterprise Club is proud to honor these two legislators for their hard work and consistent support of economic freedom and prosperity at our state capitol,” President Scot Mussi said. “They truly made a difference for Arizona taxpayers and businesses.”