Brewer vetoes health insurance proposal, other measures - East Valley Tribune: Politics

Brewer vetoes health insurance proposal, other measures

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Posted: Thursday, April 28, 2011 6:16 pm | Updated: 8:42 pm, Thu Apr 28, 2011.

Calling it too big of a change to be done so quickly, Gov. Jan Brewer on Thursday vetoed legislation that could have left Arizonans unable to get insurance coverage for certain medical conditions or treatments.

In a letter to lawmakers, the governor said she supports more competition and choice in health insurance. And Brewer said she shares the concern of legislators that requiring health insurance policies to include certain types of coverage can drive up costs.

But the governor said a last-minute addition to the plan approved by lawmakers would have eliminated, in a single action, decades of individual decisions by prior legislatures about what should be included in a standard health insurance package offered for sale in Arizona. And she pointed out that the change was made in a way to preclude any public testimony on the issue.

Brewer separately vetoed a measure that would have limited year-over-year increases in state spending to population growth and inflation, calling it “too restrictive.’’ The governor said that was proved by the experience in Colorado, which enacted similar limits as a “Taxpayer Bill of Rights’’ and then had to repeal them.

And the governor refused to go along with legislation that would have required Tucson and Phoenix to seek bids for certain government services, saying lawmakers should stop trying to “micromanage decisions best made at the local level.”

But the governor did ink her approval to several other measures, including:

• Allowing one party in a divorce to ask a judge to delay the process for up to 120 days.

• Creating a special license plate to raise money for Tea Party causes.

• Giving candidates the right to place campaign signs in the right of way regardless of local ordinances.

• Informing vehicle owners who get notices in the mail of photo-radar violations they do not legally have to respond to them or identify the driver if it is someone else.

• Permitting the governor to accept donations and enter into agreements with other states to build a fence on private property — and government land, where allowed — along the border.

• Letting the governor establish an “Arizona State Guard’’ she could use in cases of emergency when the regular Arizona National Guard does not have sufficient troops.

And Brewer signed legislation declaring the Colt single-action Army revolver to be the official state firearm. That came over objections by Rep. Albert Hale, D-Window Rock, who said that weapon was used to kill Indians.

“Certainly, it’s something that we weighed,’’ said gubernatorial press aide Matthew Benson. And he said that Arizona “has a past’’ with Indians “and certainly the Colt was part of that.’’

“But we believe, on balance, that it’s a historical part of Arizona and, as such, it’s worthy of some recognition,’’ he said.

The health insurance measure would have allowed companies from any state to sell their policies in Arizona. Proponents said that increased competition would drive down prices.

But an amendment added on the House floor — after all public hearings were completed — also effectively would have repealed existing laws that spell out what conditions must be covered for policies offered for sale in Arizona.

That list of mandates, which has been added to over the years, is extensive.

For example, policies written for women of certain age groups must include mammogram screening. There also is a mandate to cover breast reconstruction surgery and for group policies purchased by some employers to include certain treatments for autism in children.

Insurance companies that write policies covering childbirth cannot force a woman out of a hospital before 48 hours for a vaginal delivery. And newborns are entitled to immediate coverage for the first 31 days without a separate policy.

Also gone would have been prohibitions against insurers limiting treatment to The provisions against discrimination, include one that allows policyholders to get 12 medically necessary chiropractic visits without first getting a referral from the insurer. Brewer’s husband, John, is a retired chiropractor.

In her veto message, Brewer said each of these provisions was “carefully weighed’’ by lawmakers before being included in the list of mandates.

“The same level of public scrutiny should be applied when the Legislature attempts to remove a mandate,’’ Brewer wrote, rather than having the change tacked onto a bill at the last minute.

The governor also pointed out the measure would have limited the power of the Arizona Department of Insurance to protect consumers who have problems with out-of-state insurers, “potentially putting Arizona policyholders at risk.’’

Brewer has now vetoed 15 bills this session, one more than all of last year. And she still has 58 other measures on her desk that require action by the end of the day Monday.

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