THE BLOG
03/10/2011 11:40 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Arizona's GOP Leader Writes Me a Letter In Favor of Slashing Medicaid

Last week, I wrote a letter to Cindy Mann, who leads state services for Medicare and Medicaid, calling for a comment period and a public hearing before Gov. Jan Brewer cuts almost 300,000 people from our state Medicaid program. Brewer has been talking about doing this for months, and unfortunately the Department of Health and Human Services isn't stopping her. I consider this nothing less than a war on Arizona's working families. Before we throw low income neighbors out of their hospital beds, I thought we should at least have a chance to hear why this is happening. Read my letter and decide for yourself.

Ms. Mann has said she's considering my suggestion, and the people of Arizona hope to hear some good news in the near future. In the meantime, I've continued to speak up against these cuts -- which are being made to cover state Republicans' passage of a $538 billion tax cut package that favors their corporate friends -- and work on other issues of importance to Arizona. I was content to wait for Ms. Mann's decision.

But Arizona Speaker of the House Kirk Adams, a conservative Republican, had other ideas. On Tuesday, he wrote me a letter just to tell me what he thinks of me.

After listing the effects of the budget crisis the state legislature has caused with its reckless corporate giveaways and insistence on immigrant-bashing, Adams writes this: "Faced with this crisis, Governor Brewer had the courage and leadership to put forward a bold proposal in January that seeks to reduce our Medicaid rolls by approximately 250,000 people. Given the massive expansions in the system over the last decade, even with these significant cuts, more than 1 in every 6 Arizonans will still be covered by Medicaid. This remains a responsible and generous level of care."

His 250,000 figure makes me think a small pang of conscience is at work, because the number (as he well knows) really is 280,000. Here's Bloomberg explaining it. Here's the Washington Post. Here's BusinessWeek. Surely they're not all part of the conspiracy.

The margin between his fake figure and the real one -- 30,000 -- is interestingly the number of jobs that will be lost if these cuts go through, according to a recent study from the Arizona State University business school. He never addresses this point in his letter. He knows there's no response. Nor does he address his and his colleagues' latest multi-billion dollar corporate handout supposedly meant to help the economy, except to say that it has nothing to do with anything else. If you don't believe me, read his letter.

He accuses me of grandstanding. If sticking up for your constituents when their lives are at stake is a publicity stunt, then I don't know what Mr. Adams will do the next time his constituents need help. Sit silently and applaud while their health care is taken away for the sake of a corporate bailout? Congratulate Gov. Brewer on a good day's work? We have different ideas about what makes an effective representative. I was content to leave it at that. Mr. Adams felt he needed to vent. His letter does him no credit, and I post it here so everyone can judge for herself.