Meet Our Candidates: Bruce Wheeler for State Representative, LD 10

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 26, 2014, and early voting began on July 31. Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.”  Make your voice heard in 2014!

When we first interviewed Bruce Wheeler in 2012, he demonstrated his commitment to reproductive justice and access to family planning health care services. In 2014, he seeks to serve another term representing the the eastern Tucson region that is Legislative District 10.

In addition to a continued strong stance on reproductive justice, Mr. Wheeler has stressed issues such as public education and the problem of discrimination against the LGBTQ community as key issues in his campaign.

Mr. Wheeler took the time for an interview on August 4, 2014.

“Government and politicians have absolutely no right to dictate a woman’s most personal medical and health care decisions.”

How has your commitment to serving Arizona grown over the past two years? On the policy level, what has happened during that time to give you hope, and what has happened to strengthen your convictions?

I am more committed than ever because of critically important personal and policy issues at risk in Arizona. What has given me hope, in spite of horrible legislation proposed and passed, is that some of that horrible agenda has suffered setbacks due to public awareness and pressure, as well as a handful of significant successes by progressive legislators.

The passage of Medicaid expansion was transformative. We now have more than 330,000 Arizonans with health insurance who previously did not.

The defeat of SB 1062 was galvanizing not only for the majority of Arizonans, but nationally as well. The instant demand that this bill, which would have codified discrimination against our LBGT community, be vetoed succeeded in just that. Continue reading

Six Things Arizona Is Doing Right

pillflagThe Arizona legislature has been an eager participant in the War on Women, rolling back women’s health and reproductive rights with a number of measures we’ve covered on this blog. Then there was Senate Bill 1062, the bill that would have given a green light to discrimination against LGBTQ individuals and many others had it not been for Gov. Jan Brewer’s veto in February. It’s easy to feel embattled in times like these, which is why a look at what Arizona is doing right might be in order.

Here’s a look at six recent news items from around the state to remind us that we have some victories to count — not just losses.

1. Moving Forward with Medicaid Expansion

Last year, against opposition from other Republicans, Gov. Brewer signed into law a Medicaid expansion that was expected to make 300,000 additional Arizonans eligible for coverage. Brewer stated that the expansion would also protect hospitals from the costs associated with uninsured patients and bring additional jobs and revenue to the economy.

That expansion took effect on the first of the year, and by early February the Associated Press was reporting that already close to 100,000 Arizonans had obtained coverage. At Tucson’s El Rio Community Health Center, the change has made them “very, very busy,” according to Chief Financial Officer Celia Hightower. El Rio used a recent grant to hire six application counselors — in addition to five who were already on staff — who could help patients understand their eligibility and guide them through the process of obtaining coverage. Pharmacist Sandra Leal reports that they’re now seeing patients receive diabetes care they previously couldn’t afford — and no longer having to choose “between paying for the doctor and paying for their grocery bill.” Continue reading