"I am grateful to the Arizona lawmakers who have acted with courage and conviction by completing the people's business.
"With landmark votes today in the House and Senate, legislators have tackled the issue that is Job One every session -- adoption of a responsible State budget -- and enacted Arizona's most sweeping health care legislation in decades.
"As an elected official of more than 30 years, I know that this process was not easy or without political risk. By joining me in extending health coverage to hundreds of thousands of Arizonans, legislators of my own party have come under sharp criticism in some quarters. Some have had threats made not just against their political future, but also their personal livelihood.
"But I also know this in my heart: The great majority of Arizonans stand with us. Our citizens have --time and again -- voted to extend cost-effective care to the working poor. Over the last five months, more than 400 community groups have rallied behind our effort. They include nurses and doctors
who described the
desperate plight of uninsured Arizonans forced to seek care in the emergency room. Business leaders who pay the Hidden Health Care Tax that results from this uncompensated care. First responders and members of law enforcement who see the human toll on our streets and in our communities as so many Arizonans with
mental illness lack access to basic care.
"Most of all, I remember the people. I remember Laura Gargiulo, a single mother who was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. She credited Arizona's Medicaid program, known as AHCCCS, with saving her life. Or Justin Smith. Like so many others, he lost his job -- and his health insurance along with it -- during the Great
Recession. Then he got sick. Emergency medical care saved his life, but he is now strapped with $200,000 in hospital bills. Hundreds of thousands of uninsured Arizonans walk the same tightrope every day, knowing they are a single car wreck, illness or accident from financial ruin. Through this process, I have been humbled by
the support of Arizonans like Laura and Justin. They are my strength.
"This Medicaid Restoration Plan does not solve all of Arizona's health care challenges. But it will extend cost-effective care to Arizona's working poor, using the very tax dollars our citizens already pay to the federal government. It will help prevent our rural and safety-net hospitals from closing their doors. And it will boost our
economy by creating more than 20,000 jobs at a time when Arizona needs them most.
"I thank the Arizona Legislature for joining me in putting the people of Arizona first."