November 5, 2004
The head of the state’s health insurance program for the poor wants to know if his agency has to comply with Proposition 200.
And he wants that decision from Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard, who publicly opposed passage of the legislation because he said the section at issue is too vague.
In a letter to Goddard, Anthony Rodgers, director of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, said the initiative requires verification of the immigration status of anyone who seeks "state and local public benefits.’’
On one hand, the provision was placed in Title 46, the state’s Welfare Code. AHCCCS is set up under Title 36, the Health Code.
But some involved with crafting the measure insist AHCCCS is a welfare program.
Kathy McKee, organizer of the Protect Arizona Now initiative, claimed that some of the reason for an AHCCCS budget increase is the failure to weed out those not here legally.
AHCCCS spokesman Frank Lopez said Rodgers may need more than a "yes’’ or "no’’ answer.
The agency’s application asks if people are in this country legally.
Being an illegal immigrant bars someone from getting ongoing coverage. AHCCCS, though, is required under federal statutes to provide emergency care, meaning the agency will have information about those who crossed the border illegally.
But Lopez said federal law bars AHCCCS from sharing that information with anyone.
Proposition 200, however, requires public employees to report those not here legally to federal immigration officials. Those who do not comply and supervisors who tell workers to ignore the law could go to jail for four months.
Lopez noted receipt of federal funds — the majority of the AHCCCS budget — is contingent on compliance with federal law.
Rep. Russell Pearce, RMesa, said Goddard should hire outside counsel.