In my 55-plus years as a native of Arizona, our state has always been pragmatically independent and conservative. Only lately has the pragmatism been replaced by dogmatic ideology. This ideology has become more hostile and prominent recently and unfortunately was brought to the forefront immediately before the Holy Days leading up to Easter. It is unfortunate that the vitriolic speak that Maricopa County GOP Chairman Mr. LaFaro chose when speaking at a legislative committee was to compare our governor with Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. It is my opinion that supporting Medicaid expansion to 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level does not amount to equating Gov. Brewer to Judas.

If we look at the expansion of Medicaid pragmatically, it is fiscally conservative to support it. This Medicaid expansion is supported by the Chamber of Commerce and will be an economic driver for employment. Unfortunately, if Medicaid expansion fails this will cause economic hardship and possibly even closure for rural hospitals. It is also important to mention that if Medicaid expansion is not passed by the Legislature, more than 50,000 uninsured adults will lose their insurance. This includes many with mental illnesses that will unfortunately and possibly tragically go untreated. This will result in undue burdens placed on our already stressed public safety professionals.

The benefit that our Arizona economy receives from this expansion is very important for our recovery. By investing in the expansion of Medicaid, the return on investment for Arizona is $8 billion. Just recently, the Mayo Clinic hospital has joined the rest of the hospitals in supporting Medicaid expansion. It is these hospitals that have agreed to impose a tax on hospital beds to pay for this initial investment. Uncompensated medical and hospital care creates a hidden tax on everyone else through an increase to our insurance premiums.

Please join me in supporting our Legislative District 18 legislators. Let's encourage Sen. McComish, Rep. Dial and Rep. Robson to support Medicaid expansion in Arizona and tell them that we have their backs when it comes to the nonproductive dogmatic vitriolic voices that oppose it.

Bob Klassen

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