Sunday, September 12, 2010

Q: What's the best way to get the desired results from a committee hearing?

A: Stack the committee with a membership that favors the desired outcome, of course.

On Wednesday at 9 a.m, there will be a meeting in the Arizona State Senate building (SHR1, to be precise) of "SENATE AD HOC COMMITTEE ON IMPACTS OF FEDERAL HEALTH CARE REFORM IMPLEMENTATION."

The agenda includes presentations on areas such as "Medicaid requirements," "Insurance requirements," and impacts on healthcare providers.

The list of presenters doesn't look *too* stacked - somebody from AHCCCS is presenting on Medicaid requirements, people from private insurers are presenting on insurance requirements, somebody from the Arizona Medical Association is presenting on impacts to healthcare providers and so forth.  While I don't expect any support for federal HCR (the AHCCCS person will say whatever the Governor wants said, the private insurers hate HCR anyway, etc.), none of the presenters stands out as wholly inappropriate for this.

However, there is some eyebrow-raising stuff in the actual membership of the "ad hoc" committee.

It's chaired by Sen. Sylvia "strip-mining uranium is a good thing because the Earth is only 6000 years old" Allen.

The other senator on the panel is Sen. John Nelson (R-LD12).  His professional background is engineering, his political background is slightly to the right of Attila the Hun.  Which by the standards of the Arizona Republican Party, makes him far too moderate.  They tried to primary him out this year but failed miserably.

The members include:

Don Hughes, who looks to be a lobbyist for private insurers

Dr. Lynne Pirie, a Phoenix-based plastic surgeon

Chris Rohrer, a surprisingly poor name for a Google search.  Seems most likely to be an IT manager at SRP (of some sort).  Not totally certain about that one, though.

Byron Schlomach, a corporate lobbyist "researcher" for the Goldwater Institute.  I'd call him a ringer, but given that GI is notorious for its strong influence over the output of the legislature (GI and the Center for Arizona Policy form the two *real* branches of the Arizona Legislature, though that isn't taught in any civics classes in Arizona), his presence on the panel is hardly surprising.

Dr. Bruce Shelton, a Phoenix-based homeopath.

Bridget Gollogly doesn't have much of an online footprint, though a Google search did turn up this letter-to-the-editor of the Payson Roundup from five years ago.  Given the ideology expressed in the letter and the hometown listed as Payson, my best guess is that she is a friend of Allen's from LD5 on a road trip.

So, let's run down the roster -

Two professional lobbyists
Two not-exactly-mainstream medical professionals (with all due respect to plastic surgeons and homeopaths)
One possible IT management professional
One FOS (Friend Of Sylvia)
One Senator, who though reputed to be intelligent and knowledgeable, has an area of expertise other than health care. (Note: I've worked with and around engineers for most of my adult life, and have nothing but the utmost respect for them.  However, I would no more ask an engineer to remove a brain tumor than I would ask a neurosurgeon to build a bridge.)

And lastly, the entire motley assortment is chaired by a Senator whose displays of (a lack of) intellectual depth have brought repeated ridicule upon Arizona (i.e. - she backed up the "6000-year-old Earth" comment with things like "we don't do enough for our rich people."

There isn't any question what the committee will determine - they will say that Health Care Reform is un-American, un-Constitutional, a Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all our precious bodily fluids, and worse.

Nope, the main question here is how long will it take before they realize that they could balance the state budget by recording meetings like this and marketing them as broad farces.

We're talking Academy Award material here...

Edit on 9/14 -

State Rep. Kyrsten Sinema has issued a statement on the hearing -
“This meeting will only reaffirm the positive impact that federal law will have on Arizona after Republicans, including Gov. Jan Brewer, took it away,” said Assistant House Democratic Leader Kyrsten Sinema. “Under the law, insurance companies that prey on Americans every day won’t be able to take advantage of them anymore. Some of those Americans include children with autism and women who have survived breast cancer.”

Brewer and Republicans kicked nearly 400,000 seniors and adults off of health care and eliminated federally mandated and funded health care for nearly 40,000 kids, making Arizona the only state in the nation to do so. (Democrats then restored health care for kids.)

“Arizonans are used to Sen. Allen’s wasteful committees on federal, not state, issues — her ad hoc climate initiatives committee last year solved nothing, but reminded us that she believes the Earth is only 6,000 years old,” Sinema said. “Perhaps Sen. Allen should stop creating government waste and start being a part of the solution.”

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