Hale statement on bipartisan budget and Medicaid expansion
STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), released the following statement after the Arizona Legislature approved a bipartisan budget that expands Medicaid coverage and increased funding for the Navajo Technical College.
“For the first time in a long time, legislators at the Capitol were able to set aside partisanship to pass a budget that will benefit health care and education in the Native American Nations.
“The Legislature approved Medicaid expansion, which will ensure that thousands of Native American people in our state have access to a higher level of health care. It will also reduce the number of uninsured people in our communities and protect the viability of rural and safety-net hospitals. These hospitals have been struggling under the strain of uncompensated care.
“The Indian Health Service and other Native American health programs will also benefit from an increase in Medicaid reimbursement. This will make resources available for other crucial services, including care for the elderly and people with disabilities. Such services also receive federal funds that are passed through the state.
“Funding for education was also a priority during the budget negotiations. We were able to secure new money for the Navajo Technical College in Chinle, Arizona. When this budget is signed into law, it will provide up to $875,000 of sales tax money from the Navajo Nation to the college. This money can be used to fund the school’s maintenance, operation and capital needs. The Navajo Technical College is an important resource for the Navajo Nation, as the demand for higher education is growing. Education is the key to success in this increasingly global economy. I am pleased we were able to invest more in this institution.
“More than once, Medicaid expansion and the funding for the Navajo Technical College were threatened by political gamesmanship. In the end, common sense prevailed, and our community will be better for it.”