Entries in Gov. Jan Brewer (2)


Arizona Governor Proposes Fining Fat Residents, Smokers

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(PHOENIX) -- As part of a plan to revamp the state's Medicaid program, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer announced on Thursday that she is proposing fees for adults who lead unhealthy lives.

Childless adults who are obese or suffer from a chronic condition and who fail to work with their doctor to meet specific goals would be charged $50 annually. The $50 annual fee also would apply to all childless adult smokers.

"If you're not going to manage those things and take some personal responsibility, and in turn that costs the state more money, then you need to have some skin in the game," said Monica Coury, assistant director of Arizona's Medicaid program.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2009 25.5 percent of Arizona residents were obese and in 2010 15.9 percent of the adult population smoked cigarettes, a total of more than 762,000 individuals.

Arizona ranked a little below the average when compared to other states for the percent of residents that were obese. As for smoking, the state was listed in the bottom 10, with one of the lowest smoking rates in the country.

Specifics on the implementation of the smoking fee are yet to be determined, but options could include random audits and relying on enrollees' statements, said Coury. "You need to be responsible for the fact that your smoking costs us more," she said.

In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Brewer wrote: "My proposal includes requirements and incentive strategies that will encourage individuals to take greater control of their health."

Democratic State Sen. Kyrsten Sinema told ABC News that while she supports efforts to encourage people to live healthier lives, she feels the fees penalize the wrong people and reach too far.

"There are some people who have diabetes and are obese through no fault of their own," Sinema said. "To fine people for medical conditions that might be beyond their control, that's just not right. ... This would punish people with disabilities who have done nothing wrong.

"We know that drinking Coke and soda pop isn't good for you, and people do it; the governor herself is one of those people," Sinema added. "It's very nanny state, which is very interesting because historically Arizona has been a very libertarian state."

Brewer's overhaul is projected to save the state $500 million, helping close a $1.1 billion budget shortfall.

It also would restore transplant funding from Medicaid, coverage that  controversially, was cut last fall. If approved in its current state, Brewer's plan would go into effect Oct. 1.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Arizona Lawmakers Stop Westboro Protestors

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Arizona lawmakers successfully curbed members of the Westboro Baptist church from picketing the funeral of the Tucson massacre's youngest victim, Christina-Taylor Green.

On Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Jan Brewer signed a new law that requires protesters to remain 300 feet from a funeral site. The law, which took effect immediately after it was signed, took only 90 minutes to pass in Arizona's legislature. Triggered by Westboro's plans to picket the funeral of nine-year-old Christina-Taylor on Thursday, the law passed by a unanimous vote.

The law assures that "the victims of Saturday's tragic shooting in Tucson will be laid to rest in peace with the full dignity and respect that they deserve," Brewer said in a statement. She praised lawmakers for "a remarkable spirit of unity and togetherness."

Westboro Baptist Church, based in Topeka, Kan., is the offshoot group of fundamentalist pastor Fred Phelps. It frequently pickets soldiers' funerals, political rallies and gay rights gatherings. Church members have long said they're exercising their First Amendment rights.

The group still plans to picket Friday's funeral of U.S. District Judge John Roll, and at the intersection where Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others were shot. Six people died when a gunman attempting to assassinate Giffords went on a shooting rampage at political gathering outside a Tucson grocery store.

Arizona State Rep. Kyrsten Sinema drafted the legislation that requires the Westboro protestors to stay 300 feet away from a funeral from an hour before it starts until an hour after it ends, ABC Affiliate KNXV reported Tuesday. "I'm a strong advocate of the First Amendment, and the bottom line is this, Fred Phelps and his group of people can still spew their hate if they want. They just don't get to do it close to the families that are grieving. They have to be farther away," Sinema told KNXV.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio