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Opinion

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March 15 - April 4, 2014

Community Commentary

Letters to the editor

Some things you might not know about Maricopa County BY DENNY BARNEY

Since I was elected to the Board of Supervisors in 2012, citizens often ask me: “What does a supervisor do?” And “What can you tell me Denny Barney. Submitted about Maricopa photo County?” Here are a few things you might not have known about Maricopa County. • To this day, more than half of all the roses grown in the United States come from Maricopa County, specifically a few farms in the Northwest Valley. Millions of bushes are grown here and shipped to nurseries and big retailers like Walmart and Home Depot. • In land area, Maricopa County is about the same size as Vermont. Maricopa County is larger than El Salvador, Israel and seven states. • If Maricopa County were a state, it would have seven electoral votes, as many as Oklahoma, Oregon and Connecticut and we are gaining on Kentucky and Louisiana. • One of the most useful tools to locate information and services, “Find Help Arizona,” was created by a Maricopa County Public Health worker, Adrienne Decker Delgado. Check it out at: www.maricopa.gov/ findhelpphx/categories.aspx . • Many might consider the Chandler Ostrich Festival, held each year in early March, as a curious novelty. But a century ago, ranchers around here traded in their cows for ostriches to satisfy women’s fashion preferences. In 1910, the feathers brought in more than $1 million to the Salt River Valley. Once feathers went out of fashion on hats and dresses the industry died out. • My hometown, Gilbert, was once the “Alfalfa Hay Shipping Capital of the World,” supplying the U.S. Army with hay for its horses during World War I.

• In 1910, Maricopa County Sheriff Carl Hayden organized the first posse that used an automobile to chase and capture train robbers. His courage and fame as a lawman propelled him to be elected to Arizona’s first Congressional seat in 1911, before Arizona officially became a state. He served eight terms in the House and seven terms in the U.S. Senate until he retired in 1968. • To appreciate the volume of work our county’s criminal justice system faces, last December alone, 8,178 persons were booked into jail, another 8,389 were released and the average daily jail population was 7,618. That’s a lot of people to feed, house, and provide medical care for. • With nationally renowned adult communities around the Valley like Sun Lakes, Rio Verde and the Sun Cities, many are surprised to learn the median age in Maricopa County is 33.6 years, three years younger than the national average. • Abraham Lincoln is a special historic figure for me. So it pleases me that it was Lincoln who signed the legislation establishing Arizona as a territory in 1863. • The Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station produces more electricity than any other power plant in the country. • Maricopa County boasts one of largest regional parks systems in the nation with more than 120,000 acres of open space parks. There are organized activities nearly every day in one of the 10 regional parks. • In the spring and fall, Usery Mountain Pass becomes a major sheep trail for flocks of sheep traveling from the high country near Mount Baldy to the Salt River Valley. As for the answer to “What does a supervisor do?” stay tuned. Denny Barney is a Gilbert resident and chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. MORE COMMUNITY COMMENTARY ON PAGE 44

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Dear editor, The State Legislature of Arizona passed a law and sent it on to their governor to allow businesses to deny service to “gay” people. They would be allowed to do this as a way to assert their religious beliefs. Similar legislation that is masquerading as “religious protection” has been introduced in Ohio, Mississippi, Idaho, South Dakota, Tennessee and Oklahoma. Efforts are stalled in Idaho and Kansas. Scenarios have been raised where Americans in Arizona could be denied service at a restaurant or refused medical treatment if a business owner thought they were gay. That is discrimination. Since the Arizona government has crossed the line into religious territory let us examine something. According to the High Priests in the Arizona Legislature, gay people would not be entitled to a burger, fries and a milkshake if someone in the restaurant—a waiter, waitress, bartender, owner—who knows?—decided that they did not want to serve them because they looked “gay.” However, the High Priests of the Arizona Legislature would still jealously guard the rights of anyone who worships strange gods, takes the name of the Lord in vain, dishonors their parents, murders, steals, makes false witness and anyone conspiring to take things that do not belong to them. In other words, the High Priests of Arizona Legislature are willing to force restaurants to serve murderers, rapists and

Total Circulation 27,250+ Driveways Fifty square mile coverage area from Price/101 to Greenfield and from Frye to Hunt Highway.

Sincerely, Alfred Brock

Ostrich Fest unethical To the editor: Most traditions evolve with the times. What once may have been considered a novelty grows old and morally questionable. Case in point: Chandler’s Ostrich Festival, which is long overdue to be relegated to history books. In their natural homes, ostriches are desert-dwelling birds designed to roam over vast home ranges. Ostriches are complex birds who form close family bonds. Females lay their eggs in a communal nest, allowing the eggs and young all to be cared for by one bonded pair. Despite their size, the necks and legs of these birds are deceptively fragile. Being forced to run while carrying full-grown adults on their backs is terrifying and goes entirely against their nature. If Chandler wants to attract visitors year round, it should devise a fresh and innovative marketing campaign that doesn’t exploit these beautiful birds. Yours truly, Jennifer O’Connor PETA Foundation

We know you have an opinion! Share it with the SanTan Sun News. Unless you’re the Mayor, however, please keep your Letters to the editor around 200-300 words, or they may be edited for length. Include your first and last name, community or development name in Southern Chandler (Cooper Commons, Ocotillo, Sun Groves, etc.) or ZIP code and daytime phone number for verification. Anonymous letters are not typically accepted. Email is the preferred submission method, to Letters@SanTanSun.com. All submitted Letters to the Editor and Community Commentaries become the property of the SanTan Sun News and may be reprinted in part, quoting the letters’ authors, or in their entirety. Your submission to the SanTan Sun News is considered your permission to print your written opinion. Opinions expressed in Community Commentaries, Letters to the Editor or cartoons are those of the author, and not that of the SanTan Sun News.

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thieves but will use the full power of the State of Arizona to bar people who “look” gay from lunch. Sound right to you?

Legislation was a bad move

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March 15 - April 4, 2014

Opinion

www.SanTanSun.com

COMMUNITY COMMENTARY FROM PAGE 43

Community Commentary

Numerous gaps in health care coverage for state’s children BY DR. ELIZABETH MCKENNA

Over the past few months, in Arizona, there have been multiple changes affecting health care coverage for children in Arizona. In October, a bipartisan bill passed which increased Medicaid expansion to 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level and many more Arizona families qualified for AHCCCS. The Affordable Care Act created an online marketplace with the aim of enrolling all eligible individuals in the United States in health insurance. Patients have a choice of plans to fit their individual financial and health needs. Employers are encouraged to provide health insurance to their employees, and those employees whose employers do not provide affordable health insurance, are eligible to receive tax credit subsidies to offset costs of buying private health insurance. However, there are still numerous gaps in health care coverage for children in Arizona. The reasons for these gaps are many. First, many employers will provide health insurance for the individual employee, but not the family of the employee. In addition, because affordable health insurance is offered to an employee, the employee is not eligible to receive tax credit subsidies to offset the cost of monthly premiums, so many families cannot afford health insurance for their children. Many of these children in other states are covered by the Children’s Health

Insurance Program (CHIP), which covers children up to 200 percent of the FPL. However on Jan. 31, 14,000 children lost their health insurance because Arizona’s CHIP program, KIDSCARE II, was frozen and new enrollment was stopped. Many of these children will automatically receive AHCCCS, but there will still be a good number of children who will not, and will not have health insurance. There are other reasons for gaps in coverage, many of which relate to immigration status. Documented immigrants who enter into the United States, must wait at least five years in a “qualified” status to be eligible for Medicaid or CHIP. Families of immigrants who have received employer-provided health insurance may not be able to receive health coverage because of cost. Children of undocumented immigrants, who arrived in Arizona with their families, are not covered by health insurance because they do not qualify for AHCCCS, and their parents are not able to buy health insurance. Homelessness, mental illness or a lack of parental knowledge or ability to navigate the health coverage enrollment process prevent many children from having health care coverage. In addition, many families are just not aware of the crucial importance of obtaining health insurance. Why is it important to have health

insurance? It is important because it helps you get the health care you need at a low cost. People with health insurance are able to go to their primary care doctor and medical home to keep themselves healthy, and take care of health problems before they become large emergencies. There are studies that having health insurance saves the public money because there are not large costs incurred because of lengthy extensive emergency room visits for problems that could have been helped earlier by a visit with a primary care provider. If you, or anyone you know is in need of health care, enrollment in the program created by the Affordable Care Act, started Oct. 1, 2013. The deadline for enrollment has been extended to March 31. You can enroll by going to www.Healthcare.gov. There are people who are trained and certified to help you apply for health insurance, because the application is rather lengthy. These people are called “assisters” and can be found on the www.Healthcare.gov website or by telephoning (800) 318-2596. When you enroll, you will be able to choose plans in the Health Insurance Marketplace. The Marketplace is where you can apply for health insurance that fits your family budget. After applying you will be able to enroll in one of several different health insurance plans. If you

qualify for Medicaid (AHCCCS ), your application will automatically go to that agency for enrollment. How can you keep your child’s regular doctor? On the Marketplace website, you can look up your current pediatrician to see if he or she participates in the plan you choose. If you use an assister to help you apply, be sure to tell them the name of your child’s pediatrician. What if you don’t qualify for AHCCCS or the Marketplace? Many primary care pediatricians and community health centers will see children and allow parents to pay on a sliding fee schedule. In addition, if your child has an acute episodic problem such as an ear infection, rash, etc., you can ask the school nurse to refer them to a pediatrician who participates in the Medical Services Project. The Medical Services Project is run by the Arizona Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and helps children who are in the Notch group, i.e., whose parents cannot afford health insurance but do not qualify for AHCCCS . Dr. Elizabeth McKenna is chairwoman of the Access to Care Committee, of the Arizona Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She takes care of patients through age 18 in Chandler, Gilbert and Queen Creek at Healing Hearts Pediatrics.

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