Horizon Roundup: McCain on health care, same-sex parental rights and Amazon in Arizona

More from this show

Health care
The Graham-Cassidy bill aims to end Medicaid by 2020 and replace the subsidy system with block grants. Legislatures will be allowed to tailor funds from the block grant to meet their state’s needs.

“Instead of Arizona’s health now being in the hands of Congress, it would be in the hands of Arizona legislature,” Arizona Capitol Times reporter Rachel Leingang told Arizona Horizon.

Gov. Doug Ducey announced his support for the bill after receiving a phone call from President Donald Trump. Arizona Sen. John McCain, however, disagrees with the bill and plans to vote against it.

Same-sex parental rights
The Arizona Supreme Court ruled that same-sex parents have joint custody of their children, stating that “Legal parent status is undoubtedly a benefit of marriage.”

The ruling went on to state that, “If same-sex marriage is legalized by the Supreme Court then this has to follow by reason.  Custody sharing and financial aid support are the same things.”

Amazon HQ2 in Arizona
Since Amazon announced plans to make a second headquarters, more than 50 cities across the country have put in bids to be the home of Amazon’s HQ2. Amazon is on the lookout for a metro area of more than one million people that has a stable business environment.

Arizona State University President Michael Crow announced his plan to offer land located on the University’s campus to Amazon as a location for their new headquarters.






Ted Simons: "Coming up next on "Arizona Horizon's Journalists' Roundtable," Senator John McCain says he'll vote no on the GOP’s latest healthcare bill. And the state supreme court rules on parental rights for same-sex couples. Those stories and more, next, on the “Journalists' Roundtable."

"Arizona Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the friends of PBS, members of your PBS station. Thank you.

Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to Arizona Horizon's Journalists' Roundtable." I’m Ted Simons. Joining us tonight, Rachel Leingang of the "Arizona Capitol Times." Jeremy Duda of the "Arizona Capitol Times," and Mike Sunnucks of the "Phoenix Business Journal." Senator John McCain announced today that he will not support the latest republican effort to repeal the affordable care act. Rachel, this is the second healthcare no from senator McCain in as many months.

Rachel Leingang: Are you getting deja vu? This is a plan from McCain’s good friend Senator Graham. McCain’s opposition is pretty much stemming from a process based point of view. He's saying slow it down, have hearings, have amendments so we don't end up in the same situation as Obama care the fault of democrats rushing through the process. He wants everything to go through an ordinary process.

Ted Simons: He says he cannot in good conscious vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal. I believe we could do better and republicans and democrats have not really tried. Nor can I support it without knowing how much it will cost and how many people will be helped or hurt by it. As Rachel said, he wants this to go down the process he wants it to go down.

Jeremy Duda: The process is why they are doing it the way they are doing it. They have 52 votes. They can't break a democratic filibuster. They can pass it with a bare majority with budget reconciliation by end of September or they have to wait a year because that's when they are doing the budget. McCain would love to see democrats and republicans work together but there is not a lot of ground between them. When you talk about repealing Obama care, the signature event of democrats during Obama’s time.

Mike Sunnucks: McCain and others like Macauski and Collins don't like the bills. They look at opposition brought up ad nauseam, how many people will be dropped, the preexisting changes. They can't get beyond that. I watched Jeff Flake talk about why he's supporting it, changes of one insurance company or regions, republicans have done a horrible job of getting their argument out there. The only thing you hear is how bad the bills will be, how many people lose coverage and what will happen to the states like California and Arizona and New York, how much money they'll lose.

Ted Simons: Instead of saying Obama Care bad, let's fix it. It's Obama Care bad, let's repeal it. It's a mantra, you have to get repeal in there. Nothing else seems as important.

Rachel Leingang: Governor Ducey said earlier this week this was a defining issue of campaigns the past eight years. They don't want to see Obama Care. They want it repealed. He's taking the view of something is better than nothing in that route, Obama Care needs to go, here's how we do it and we have to do it fast.

Ted Simons: It's like the word tax among republicans. Repeal seems to be the only word to be used with the affordable care act.

Jeremy Duda: This is nowhere close to a full repeal. That's why Senator Rand Paul is a no vote for opposite reasons. He doesn't think it goes far enough. He wants a full repeal. We have seen the same out of Andy Biggs and other. They don't want to see repeal and replace. They want repeal. Until it's a repeal of 2010, some folks are not getting onboard.

Mike Sunnucks: Republicans have a hard time talking about healthcare. They talk taxes and regulations but when you talk about losing coverage and preexisting coverage or coverage so expensive they can't afford it. They struggle to come up with answers. There is a disconnect in the party. Blue-collar folks that voted for trump was it because of Obama Care or culture and changes. Then you have the think tanks that hate Obama Care because of how it expands the welfare state. The money guys have pressure to make that go away. The bigger picture, republicans can't come up with a plan to pass where it implements what they want to do.

Ted Simons: When Senator McCain gave his reduction, Governor Ducey gave his support saying it's superior to anything in Washington healthcare policy in recent memory because it shifts dollars back to the states. The people expect us to repeal Obama Care. 51 votes are still possible. Do the people of Arizona expect for Obama Care to go away period?

Rachel Leingang: It's a little unclear. There are definitely some that want that, and some that don't. They expect responsibility from their leaders and something miss is the analysis on who gets dropped, and how much money Arizona could lose in there. There are all different figures some the governor says is not reliable, but they have not put out an analysis and they don't have a time line to do it. Maybe that's what should come first, an analysis of what happens, numbers the governor trusts.

Ted Simons: This is the second time he approved the bill. The first time President Trump contacted governor Ducey and said support the bill.

Jeremy Duda: That's right. They were discussing repeal and replace, something both want to see. Unless you are part of the governor's circle, I don't know how much influence it was. We have seen him, two days after the election he said we don't want to see the rug pulled out, that's gone. The rug is gone. The governor is not concerned about the rug now. What he's concerned about is doing something to get the ball rolling on Obama Care. Something is better than nothing.

Ted Simons: Talking 10 to $11 billion, you are talking annually a billion dollars lost here. I think everyone can understand, do something, affordable care act is not working as well as it should. Do you have to throw baby with bath water?

Mike Sunnucks: Republicans would like to see that happen. They want to get rid of expanding and they worry it will balloon, more and more programs. You saw them reach out to Ducey to give McCain cover. McCain says i'll see what the governor says and support it. We saw how that turned out. The block grant is jack kemp type welfare reform. Conservatives like that. They think a state like Arizona has different needs than New York or California. When you think of all of the problems before Obama Care, during Obama Care and after Obama Care because of costs, they can't implement the policies they want because the human element in there, we'll cut all of the programs. A lot of conservatives, moderate ones, don't have the stomach for that.

Rachel Leingang: Ducey said it's not going to solve all of the problems. It's a first step. There is a lot to be done. The something over nothing plan knowing you have to fix and fix and fix until you end up with something palatable to a larger audience.

Ted Simons: And doesn't cost $133 billion by 2036. That's a lot of projection and a lot of money, 400,000 folks would lose when Medicaid expansion goes away. How are republicans, the governor in particular saying this is good for Arizona?

Jeremy Duda: They didn't support expansion but once it's there, it's difficult to get rid of it. You can't offer that type of benefit and take it away later. That's what this would do, a circuit breaker, funding drops below 80%. The whole program goes away. It could be less depending on how this structures us.

Ted Simons: Before we go on, we'll go over the Graham Cassidy bill. Ends Medicaid expansion by 2020. Replaces the subsidy system with block grant. You get the grant and spend it as you see fit.

Mike Sunnucks: You have heard republicans talk about healthcare; they think it should be at the state level. They have always liked that approach. It's hard with healthcare because it cuts across state lines. It's a national issue and a national problem we have had here.

Ted Simons: As far as higher premiums for the sick, does not disallow that. That could be possible. Maternity care, drug services, these sort of things. That's not necessarily included as well. That's a lot of stuff floating up there.

Rachel Leingang: It's up to the states to figure out those issues. It's in the hands of the Arizona legislature.

Ted Simons: If they had the responsibility of having healthcare for Arizona, what would it look like?

Jeremy Duda: There are so many major parts of the economy. If this was to pass, it's the busiest legislative session we have seen. There is so much for them to unpack and who knows what it would look like. It's impossible to know right now.

Mike Sunnucks: Plus you have a contrast between what the state wants and the legislators want. The voters take a progressive approach more than the republicans that control the legislature. You see this in a lot of states. Arizona there is uncompensated care returns.

Rachel Leingang: Before McCain announced he would vote no, calling on Flake to vote no, it's the thing they said, they'll take care of them one way or the other.

Jeremy Duda: One thing Obama Care did, it eliminated federal payments to hospitals for people without insurance. Medicaid was to put money back into the pockets. These folks stand to lose a lot of money.

Mike Sunnucks: That's one thing that's been lost as the republicans stumbled their way through this, the influence healthcare insurance has in Washington and state capitals. Obama care changed the playing field but they seem to be in business. This is a huge cut to revenue, bottom line if you are yanking the money away from them. They have a lot of influence capitol hill.

Ted Simons: It has to pass by September 30th with a straight majority. After that, they have to beat a filibuster. That's not going to happen.

Rachel Leingang: As of now, there don't appear to be votes.

Ted Simons: So next week we are talking about the latest failed attempt to repeal Obama Care?

Jeremy Duda: We have two no votes. Susan Collins of Maine is leaning against it. Susan Marcouski. They are trying to buy her off. As long as none of the democrats break ranks, but McCain, second thumbs down may be the death nail.

Mike Sunnucks: Ironically, Trump said let it wither on the vine and let it collapse. Another irony, Trump campaigned against the incompetent republicans and now he has to deal with them to pass the healthcare bill. Some question how it worked out for Obama in the end and Trump with nothing done.

Ted Simons: We'll see what happens with this by September 30th. The department of homeland security comes out and says, 21 states were targeted by Russian agents, confirming -- I thought we knew in Arizona, among the 21 states, is it different? Is it the same thing we learned before?

Rachel Leingang: It's really unclear. They announced scant details of what happened here. Secretary of state Michelle Reagan, I have seen a tweet about getting more details on what happened here. That's supposed to happen beginning of next month. It's unclear to me at this point. I have no idea.

Ted Simons: What's this all about?

Jeremy Duda: Last year, if I’m not mistaken, it's affecting one county. The voter system is 21 states. We don't have a lot of details. We don't know if the systems were breeched or whether Arizona’s system was breeched that could get a lot of information out there that folks don't want. She was talking about security voter information the rational of rejecting trump's election integrity commission. Once secretary Reagan gets this next month we'll have more answers.

Ted Simons: They are saying Russian agents did hack 21 states. We don't know the extent or how far it went or where it within the.

Mike Sunnucks: You have the sec exchange commission breached, Equifax breached. I don't think our cyber security folks know how the information was used or how far someone got into it. The president was tweeting about the Russian hoax and Facebook ads and puts the president in an opposite position from the bureaucracy, intelligence agencies in Washington. They are going to release this. It looks like Russian meddling. The people on the left think there was more than meddling going on in the election.

Ted Simons: Arizona Supreme Court ruled on same-sex parental rights and said what?

Rachel Leingang: This is a case of an anonymous sperm donor had the child together and the woman who had the child is claiming to be the only parent. They ruled the other parent, the other person in the marriage had parental rights the same as an opposite sex couple would have. In the ruling the justice said this requires a look at all of the other statutes that relate to the terms "husband and wife" the term man, what does parent mean? A lot of these things since the 2015 supreme court ruling that made marriage local, work through the court process but we are not looking at the statutes written in specific ways. It delves into a big pool of wording and statutes.

Ted Simons: It's based on the Supreme Court ruling. If same-sex marriage is legalized by the Supreme Court, this has to follow suit by reason, this has to follow suit.

Jeremy Duda: Sure. There are so many laws on the books, Arizona and every other state contingent as marriage being defined between a man and woman. The Supreme Court ruling over turned the card table there, but the statutes have not caught up. In 2015, Maricopa county bill Montgomery refused to allow same-sex couples to adopt. There are laws that flow from that. Even campaign finance laws.

Ted Simons: The biggies are custody sharing and financial aid support. Same thing says the court.

Mike Sunnucks: Yes, and I don't think the republican legislature is going to do anything on that. There are a lot of social conservatives that didn't agree with the supreme court ruling. The courts did this. Maybe the courts should take care of this. I don't think there is going to be a rush by republicans to take husband and wife out of statute. A lot of this is implied. Other states are going through this too, everyone will assume a parent is a parent, spouse is spouse, doesn't matter their orientation. I don't see republicans introducing bills for the technical corrections.

Rachel Leingang: The court is almost entirely republicans now. There is only one democratic appointee left on the court. It's not like we are talking a liberal court. It's a republican leaning court.

Ted Simons: All seven justices were in agreement here. Legal parent status is undoubtedly a benefit of marriage.

Jeremy Duda: All seven members agreed on this. There was a concurring opinion. There was a dissenting part about what to do with the leftover statues.

Ted Simons: Before we go, Mike, I start with you on this since you are the business journal, Arizona pitching woo to Amazon for hq2. Do we have any chance at all?

Mike Sunnucks: Our odds are probably not great. Amazon has 5,000 employees here. We are a great back office, second headquarter type place. If they were looking for a logistical place, Michael Crow is ready to pitch ASU and all of its innovations. We are a labor market. Our biggest drawback is that we don't offer corporate welfare incentives. You will see lots of states and cities do that. We are in the same time zone part of the year, with Seattle. Maybe it's a logistical move for Chicago or go east. We are not totally out of it. We are a good place for businesses to locate. There are a lot of big companies here. If it's a bidding war, we don't do that. We don't play that game and other states will.

Ted Simons: They want a stable business environment. I don't know what that means. They want a strong talent pool, ASU seems like a strong talent pool. Is it enough? And they expect incentives from the area. Do they expect more, culture and gaming, those type of things?

Rachel Leingang: You are seeing educational systems solid for their employees, things for millennials to do because they are so different from everyone else. They want fun and culture. Things like that matter to some degree. Things that force them to choose a place are based on money.

Ted Simons: Again, we are near the bottom in education funding, near the top to cuts to higher education. Does that play into this or is it a dollar and cents type of move?

Jeremy Duda: It plays more than the cactus the city of Houston tried to send. What was that about? A 10-foot cactus? I think it comes down to dollars and cents and incentives. Whoever lands this headquarter, that state -- whatever city and county, they are going to have to break the bank on incentives. Remember a few years ago about the Tesla center? A giant incentive package. I don't think the governor has it to.

Mike Sunnucks: You hear Austin, Boston. Places that have a lot of talent. We are not far down on the list of talent, but we are not up there with technology talent. We have a little more work to do on that. Trump announced fox con from the oval often and landed in Paul Ryan’s district. We are more conservative. We are Trump country. He comes here. That could play a role in this. He could go for a blue state place.

Ted Simons: We'll see on that. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Ted Simons: Monday on "Arizona Horizon," what's behind the record number of suicides among veterans in the western and rural areas of the country, and the Susan G. Komen breast-cancer nonprofit has closed its doors in Arizona. We'll learn about a local group stepping in to fill the void. That's Monday at 5:30 and 10:00 on "arizona horizon." Tuesday, what happens at the fed as expected increases interest rates. Wednesday, a session of the U.S. Supreme Court. Thursday, horizon and "Horizonte" on the future of DACA and Friday, another edition of the "Arizona Horizon's" journalist round table. That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. You have a great weekend. ºº

Rachel Leingang: Arizona Capital Times
Jeremy Duda: Arizona Capital Times
Mike Sunnucks: Phoenix Business Journal

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