ARIZONA: Gov. Takes Conservative Heat Over Kiddiecare
Arizona conservatives "launched a drive yesterday to unseat Gov. Jane Hull [R], in part because of her plan to provide health care to children of the working poor," the Capital Media Services/Arizona Daily Star reports. Phil Mason and Thayer Verschoor, the Republican chairs of two Arizona legislative districts, called on other Republicans not to reelect Hull in November because "she has abandoned the party's principle of limited government" by promoting the Kids Care program, Arizona's proposed program that takes advantage of federal Children's Health Insurance Program funds. Under the program, Arizona would provide health care coverage to about 60,000 children with the federal government paying three-quarters of the cost (Fischer, 4/21). As Hull urged passage of her Kiddiecare bill yesterday at a Capitol rally, the Arizona Republic reports that "GOP insurgents waved signs that attacked 'Kids Care' ... as 'Hillary's Health Plan.'" Hull conceded -- in what the Republic notes was "a pass at understatement" -- that the "politics of this have become unusual."
In her speech yesterday, Hull "tried to reassure conservatives about Kids Care," the Republic reports. Under the program, Arizona could receive up to $1 billion in federal funds over 10 years by spending $36 million in state money generated by state tobacco tax revenues. In the first year, the program would cover children whose families live at 150% of the federal poverty level ($24,000 per year for a family of four). "Hull stressed that the plan helps the working poor, not welfare recipients" and that if the federal money dried up, the state would have no obligation to continue the program (Moeser, 4/21). Hull also said Kids Care is "representative of conservative principles because it doesn't create a new state program and the health care is provided through contracts with private industry." The Capitol Media/Daily Star reports that Hull said she "is willing to make changes to the plan" (4/21). Hull will include her Kids Care plan in a call for a special session on the state budget, "which could begin later this week," the Republic reports (4/21).