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Acting Big

October 10th, 2014

“Rhetoric is a poor substitute for action, and we have trusted only to rhetoric. If we are really to be a great nation, we must not merely talk; we must act big.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Time and again, the citizens of Arizona have proven that they want a government that actually works.  From Proposition 100 that balanced our budget to Medicaid restoration, the voters have stood up for an effective government that takes action to solve problems – one that acts in the public interest and serves the people of this great State.

In each of these challenges, there has been a lot of “small” talk – the same old rhetoric that drives the “do nothing” narrative.  It appeals to a small portion of the electorate, but it never seems to grow, because rhetoric is indeed a poor substitute for action.  A majority of Arizonans aren’t buying what they’re selling now – no matter how they package up their tired rhetoric.

Once again, voters have the opportunity to act in the public interest, this time by supporting our only public hospital by voting Yes on Proposition 480.

Since before Arizona was even a state, our public hospital was taking care of those most in need in Maricopa County. Today, Maricopa Integrated Health System is providing quality, affordable health care to everyone who enters their doors.  MIHS provides level one trauma care for adults and children, the Arizona Burn Center, and clinics in the underserved areas of Maricopa County.

There are countless reasons to support Proposition 480, but there are three key issues that demonstrate why MIHS is a significant part of the solution to our community health care challenges, not part of the problem:

First, treatment for the mentally ill.  MIHS is largest provider of help for the seriously mentally ill and the only provider of court ordered mental health evaluations.  This year’s resolution of the long-standing Arnold v. Sarn litigation, which challenged the State’s support for the SMI population, is directly tied to our community’s continued support for programs that serve this population.  Each day police officers and fire fighters are on the front line of this problem and it’s clear that they need help.  Adequate treatment for the mentally ill helps public safety and improves our quality of life.  Proposition 480 will help expand and improve treatment for those patients with mental illness.

Second, MIHS is our largest teaching hospital.  We have a critical shortage of medical professionals.  Maricopa Medical Center is the only teaching hospital and it needs to keep up with our region’s demand.  MIHS trains over 400 doctors a year with over 75% of them staying here in Arizona to continue their careers.  Ask your doctor or nurse where they received their training, they are very likely to say MIHS.  No other provider could pick up that slack.

Finally, the fiscal implications of MIHS on the state budget.  As Republic Columnist Bob Robb mentioned in his column on 10/8, as the public hospital, MIHS earns approximately $90 million in federal dollars per year in uncompensated care for the state.  The state in turns holds onto approximately $57 million of that money for their general fund purposes and awards the rest to hospitals throughout Arizona to compensate them for uncompensated care provided to those who cannot afford it.  Without MIHS, the state’s budget hole would be even deeper.

In addition, MIHS patient population is nearly 90% AHCCCS or charity care.  Reimbursement rates for AHCCCS patients are well below that of private insurance. MIHS provides the best care at the lowest possible cost of any health care facility in Maricopa County.  There has been a great deal of hospital consolidation over the past few years.  Without MIHS to keep costs down, greater consolidation could undoubtedly have the effect of raising the rates and reducing competition for the AHCCCS populations.

Our state and our nation are struggling between the ideological extremes of those who want the government to be in charge of everything and those who fiercely believe that the government should do nothing.

The truth is in the middle.  We live in the real world where people get sick, injured, or burned.  People are experiencing behavioral health problems and have no place to turn.  Maricopa County’s population continues to grow and we don’t have enough doctors and nurses to meet demand.  Standing on the sidelines and simply saying no won’t fix these problems.

Is there a cost?  Yes.  And it is right on the website at www.YESon480.com for all to see.  You can see the total financial obligation and how much it’s going to cost you.   When you cast your vote on Prop 480, though, the real question you should be asking yourself is, “What is the cost to our community’s quality of life if MIHS doesn’t exist?”

The elected board of the health system is asking for the resources to improve your safety net care hospital for those who most desperately need care. Thank God if you are not one of them, and then “think big” and vote “yes.”

Teddy Roosevelt, the President who is most responsible for our state’s existence, would be proud.

HighGround, Inc. was one of the public advocates for creation of the Maricopa County Special Health Care District in 2003 and continues to work on the District’s behalf.  HighGround Inc. is also the General Election consultant on behalf of the YES on 480 Committee.

Roosevelt Row Continues To Impress

September 19th, 2014

HighGround is very proud to be a part of the Roosevelt Row community and the amazing growth we’ve seen here over the past decade. From art galleries to new restaurants and boutiques, Roosevelt Row has become one of the most energetic art districts in the country and people from all over are taking notice.

USA Today just named Roosevelt Row as one of the Top 10 Best City Art Districts in America, a well-deserved honor that proves our community is thriving as the new place to work, shop and live in Arizona. USA Today writes:

“The Roosevelt Row Arts District (RoRo) in downtown Phoenix is a walkable, creative district bedecked with galleries, quirky shops and exhibits by both up-and-coming and old favorite artists. The monthly First Fridays Artwalk includes participation by more than 70 galleries and art-friendly businesses who open their doors, creating what may be the nation’s largest, self-guided art walk. From its humble artist beginnings in 1993, the neighborhood has developed to include award-winning restaurants, galleries, boutiques and live music venues.”

Congrats to the entire Roosevelt Row community on this outstanding recognition!

Read the USA Today article here.

Fighting Fires, Solving Problems

August 12th, 2014

We have known Bryan Jeffries for several years and have been proud to work with him many local and statewide issues.  He is a man of integrity and someone you can count on to listen, even when he doesn’t agree.  He has expressed these qualities in his work as a community member, leader of the Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona, and on the city council.

All unions are most certainly not the same and Tim Hill and Bryan Jeffries have helped the fire fighters to take their own thoughtful path.  Bryan is a worthy successor to Tim and will continue to fight for smart reforms.

The New York Times featured Bryan’s latest efforts to solve the problems facing the long term viability of the pension system.  According to the article, his bold efforts are based on the notion “that emergency workers have a special obligation to protect the public not only from physical peril, but also from financial ruin.”  Read the article.

Today, the Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona endorsed another problem solver – Mayor Scott Smith.

“Mayor Scott Smith prioritized public safety while leading Mesa through an economic recession and used innovation to improve response time for first responders,” stated Bryan Jeffries, president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona. “His commitment to keeping Arizona families and neighborhoods safe is exactly what we need in our next Governor. We’re proud to stand with Mayor Scott Smith and support his campaign.”

During his time as Mayor, Smith worked with first responders to reduce response times, increase safety, and improve efficiency.  They implemented innovations such as Transitional Response Vehicles (TRV) to respond to low level calls and get people the help they need.  Read the article.  It was reforms like these that helped Mayor Smith balance Mesa’s budget even in the depths of the recession.

Like Governor Brewer said in her endorsement of Mayor Smith, Arizona needs more people who are willing to tell Arizonans the truth and tackle the actual problems that face our state.

Wide open race: GOP voters holding on to their ballots

August 8th, 2014

Despite claims that the bid for the Republican nomination for Governor is a “two candidate race,” the fact is – the race hasn’t really even started.  The horses have barely left the gate and the Republicans appear to be waiting to see how they do down the stretch.

The first few days of early ballot returns in MaricopaCounty show that Republicans are taking their time to return their early ballots.  Through the first few days of voting, only 27,193 Republicans have cast their vote – a 36% decline compared to a similar period of time in 2012.

While Republicans are holding on to their ballots, Independents are turning theirs in at a much higher rate.  Through the first few days of voting, 3,925 Independents have cast a Republican Ballot.  That is a 48% increase in participation over the same period in 2012.

Only time will tell if Independent returns stay at such a high level.  However, based on an estimate of approximately 550,000 voters participating in the Republican primary, that would mean only 5.6% of the ballots have been cast.  In comparison, more than 8.8% of the total ballots were cast in the first few days of the 2012 Republican Primary.

So, there are 94.4% of likely voters who still have a ballot in their hand.  That certainly doesn’t bode well for the “too late” narrative that some pundits have ascribed to Governor Jan Brewer’s recent endorsement of Mayor Scott Smith.

The race for the Republican nomination for Governor remains wide open.  Smith will have a big dose of Brewer momentum going into the home stretch.

Arizona Summer Blockbusters

July 28th, 2014

With the D-Backs swoon and football still weeks away, we are deep into summertime blues. The searing heat of a Phoenix summer has created quite a brain swelter.

The only thing left to do with goings on of the State and its political news is to… laugh. The reaction may perhaps be considered dark, but nevertheless, these stories generate a least a bit of a wry smile:

1. To Mock an Inmate!

The local and national media was mouth breathing last week when it took nearly two hours for an Arizona inmate to be executed. Michael Kiefer, of the Arizona Republic, dutifully recorded the number of times the inmate snored, gulping for air, demonstrating the “botched” execution.

Ironically, it all could have been prevented if the defense lawyers and the death penalty opponents were not engaged in an all out effort to publicly intimidate the pharmaceutical companies. They’ve created such a hysteria that states are refusing to divulge where the drugs are coming from and pharmaceutical companies are reticent to make correct drugs to carry out the execution in a timely manner.

This drama does not star any Atticus Finch’s; the true villains are the defense attorneys ensuring their own death row clients’ execution does not happen in a timely manner to drive public hysteria on the inhumanity of the death penalty.

Rated R for ridiculous: dark humor, adult situations, and irony.

2. Mission Accomplished Part 2 – Staring President Obama

A New York Times story on Saturday indicated that nearly half of all unaccompanied children initially placed in shelters have gone on to be reunited with at least one parent already living in the United States.

This summer blockbuster stars President Obama doing his best to mitigate any bipartisan support for substantive immigration reform. A true disaster movie, the protagonists actions pretty much crush any hopes of addressing our nation’s broken immigration and border security policies.

This drama makes American audiences wince at the comparisons between a Kremlin oligarch set on doing whatever he wants and a President of a constitutional democracy acting in nearly identical ways.

All the while the national media is willfully swallowing the White House narrative as if they worked for Pravda:

  • Migrant Children – how many of these kids are teens? How many parents with children have been resettled in the US? Reports say they have been placed mostly with family. Mostly? Really, is that an accurate assessment and how do they know?
  •  Fleeing Central American Violence – Well of course, let’s open up the US to folks from the Ukraine, Syria and Gaza as well. Let’s make a foreign policy crisis a domestic one. Obama’s foreign policy mishaps are legendary, his domestic accomplishments, well everyone knows about those!

In September of 2012, New York Times columnist, David Brooks wrote that, “The next President has to do three big things, which are in conflict with one another, increase growth, reduce debt, and increase social equity. The Democrats offer no actual plan, but Obama at least offers a vague whiff that he would be capable of advancing these cross cutting challenges.”

Much of politics today is just about winning an election – not about governing. Like Wall Street where it doesn’t matter if your client makes money, it’s only important that a trader prospers. Today winning an election is an end in itself. Even if this were not true, Brooks’ conclusion has one other fatal flaw.

Obama lacks the humility necessary to be a 21st century consensus builder. His competitive instincts make him have to be the smartest guy in the room, which is a major turn off. Obama lacks Dr. King’s willingness to sacrifice himself for a cause that was greater than him. Obama doesn’t know anyone or thing greater than himself.

Rated PG-13, only suitable for older migrant children: Dark Humor, Adult Situations, Michael Moore is on permanent vacation from any attempt to use the same ridicule he focused on previous administrations on this imperial presidency.

3. The Manchurian Endorsement

For those Arizonans paying attention at the end of July, Sunday’s Arizona Republic endorsement of Doug Ducey was a bit of a summer time shocker.

The editorial began with two paragraphs of policy accolades for Mesa Mayor Scott Smith and mentioned that he alone was the only candidate for Governor on the Republican ticket who had endorsed all of Governor Jan Brewer’s major policy initiatives. You know, the same one’s the Republic editorial board has been supporting as well; Proposition 100, Medicaid Restoration, Arizona College and Career Ready Standards, etc.

Right, so the endorsement goes to… Doug Ducey? Talk about a M. Night Shyamalan twist.

The paper went onto recite all of the “big name” endorsements that Doug Ducey’s campaign has received and ended by mentioning that even the “Big Unit” himself had endorsed the conservative ice cream guy. Really? Randy Johnson sealed the gubernatorial endorsement?

We suspect that there may be some pigeon feathers flying around on this one…

Ok, so here is the secret inside the Manchurian endorsement – the Arizona Republic really wants Fred DuVal to be your next Governor.

So when Christine Jones and the “Better Leaders for Arizona” get done dragging the conservative ice cream guy into the Arizona summer time sun, the Arizona Republic will backtrack and say again, that there is no Republican fit to serve.

There you go; the paper is really back to where it was all along!

This drama has not yet been rated. Wait for this blockbuster to appear on your screens in early September!