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Cheshire Cat Grins in Arizona, 1.3M Souls on Board

All eyes on Madison. I get that. The whole of the progressive community gets that. But while the cat’s away the Arizona mice are playing – only it’s a deadly game of systemic violence that screams for attention every bit as intense as the day Rep. Gabby Giffords was shot just a few weeks ago in Tucson.

The Republican legislature and governor in Arizona are determined to bit their state’s budget deficit on the backs of the poor and the ill and the injured and the immigrant population. So while Wisconsin attacks collective bargaining, Arizona’s arrogant right wingers are taking on a different sort of violent and direct attack on their own residents.

You know it takes a lot for healthcare providers to speak up against any profit-loving, market hugging legislators – Republican or Democrat. But in Arizona, the bills are so troubling to the bottom line that even the providers are screaming for relief.

In the Arizona Republic today, “Health-care providers say they're under siege from the Legislature, battling against a raft of proposals to shrink the public system and bring illegal-immigration enforcement into hospital corridors and doctors' offices.

“Bills making their way through the legislative process would add fees for people on the state's Medicaid program, withhold federal emergency-care funding from hospitals that treat illegal immigrants and make it a crime if health-care workers fail to report people without proper documentation. “We feel like we're getting assaulted from all sides," said Tara McCollum Plese of the Arizona Association of Community Health Centers. "My folks are just frantic right now."

Wait for it. The other shoe drops, “Republican lawmakers who support the bills say the state can no longer afford its burgeoning indigent-health-care program, which now insures more than 1.3 million Arizonans, and they believe those who qualify should shoulder more of the costs.”

Let them die. Let them suffer. Let them go broke. Those lousy indigents have no right to anything -- it may as well be directly stated. In Arizona, the poor are expendable.

Read the whole article.

So, now that providers will face seeing fewer patients with state funding because those patients will opt not to pay large co-pays and other costs to get care, suddenly those Arizona providers are worried about the Republicans’ proposals? Hmmm.

1.3 Arizonans aren’t worth the effort, so say the Republican legislators and governor. For 1.3 million people, life is not sacred and there is a definite line in the sand.

So why don’t Arizona’s Democrats walk out? Why don’t activists who support health reform race to Arizona? Surely there are a few people not going to the excitement in Madison who might be compelled to consider the loss of life and access to healthcare in Arizona important enough to weigh in. Surely, the nation will not turn its backs on sick and injured Arizonians.

Where are Arizona’s federal elected officials on this travesty? Well, one of them is healing from a gunshot wound and cannot even be told of her injury lest the upset of it cause her damage and even hurt her recovery. Yet, 1.3 million Arizonians aren’t valuable enough to protect them from hearing the unfolding, impending doom?

This attack on healthcare access in Arizona will not only injure and kill people but also hurt the economy that relies so heavily on the healthcare industry for the hundreds of thousands of snowbirds who come older and sicker to Arizona to spend their days in the sun and the beauty.

Well, no matter. Arizona is about to become the first stare in the nation that definitively attaches a value to human life in dollars and cents. And 1.3 million lives have a value of exactly zero. Zero. A tragedy in the making wouldn’t even touch an accurate description of it all.

And if for one minute we don’t think that the same forces hoping to crush unions in Wisconsin are not cheering the effort to crush the poor and uninsured in Arizona, well our next stop should be to look over that swap land in Florida where I am sure a newly-elected right-wing governor will be happy to find yet more ways to legalize the atrocities against our own people.

We are lost in a sea of zealotry that can only be quelled by truth told to all and appropriately addressed.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

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Donna Smith

Donna Smith
Donna Smith Donna Smith is the national chair of the Healthcare Not Warfare campaign for Progressive Democrats of America.  She was featured in Michael Moore’s 2007 documentary, SiCKO.

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