AHCCCS chief's memo on Prop. 101 not illegal - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

AHCCCS chief's memo on Prop. 101 not illegal

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Posted: Wednesday, October 29, 2008 7:44 pm | Updated: 10:24 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The head of the state's health care program did not break the law by sending out a memo warning of possible negative effects if voters adopt Proposition 101, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Kenneth Mangum noted that the Sept. 17 memo by Anthony Rodgers, director of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, does not spell out the pros and cons of the initiative, which would constitutionally prohibit the state from imposing any type of universal health care.

That memo, sent to reporters, editorial writers and companies that contract with AHCCCS to provide care, instead only talked about how the measure could hurt the program.

Mangum acknowledged it is illegal to use public funds to influence the outcome of an election.

But the judge said the law does allow state agencies to "educate" the public about the effects of specific ballot measures - even if that education is one-sided.

Eric Novack, a Phoenix doctor and one of the organizers of the initiative, said he believes the judge got it wrong.

"The issue is, should any executive in our state be in the position to use the unbelievable political, financial and media power of the entire executive branch in an effort to defeat citizen initiatives of any kind," he said.

But Novack said it makes no sense to appeal given that the election is Tuesday.

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