Hospital-bond support campaign raises nearly $1M

AZ Central
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Michelle Ye Hee Lee

The campaign for passage of a $935 million bond measure to fund a new and expanded county hospital system has raised nearly $1 million, according to the first campaign-finance report filed Thursday.

Voters will decide whether to approve the bond measure, Proposition 480, during the Nov. 4 general election.

The measure asks voters to authorize a bond of up to $935 million to upgrade and expand facilities of the Maricopa Integrated Health System, a publicly-funded hospital system that also serves as a safety net for the Valley's underinsured and uninsured residents.

If approved, the bond would finance the replacement of the Maricopa Medical Center, the Level One Trauma Center and the Arizona Burn Center, all currently located in aging facilities. The bond also would pay for a new behavioral-health facility and new, expanded or renovated community clinics throughout the Valley.

The majority of campaign donors were physicians and other employees of MIHS and the District Medical Group, the not-for-profit physician group at MIHS, the report showed. The campaign raised $910,426 as of Aug. 14.

The campaign has drawn some opposition, though there is no formal opposition campaign at this time.

The Arizona Tax Research Association has filed a statement against the proposition, saying the measure imposes $1.4 billion, including principle and interest, in property-tax increases on Maricopa County citizens. The association argues taxpayers agreed to create the Special Health Care District to provide subsidized health-care services for the poor, yet the district is proposing to "dramatically expand" its mission.

The Goldwater Institute also opposes the measure, saying it is "simply unconscionable" to ask taxpayers to foot the bill for the project. It said the tax dollars would be spent to duplicate services that are already being provided by local private hospitals.

Prop. 480 has drawn support from a wide range of community leaders, medical professionals and state and local government officials. They say the measure would improve health-care services, attract more medical professionals and provide firefighters, first responders and police with quality facilities and equipment.

Congressman Ed Pastor, D-Ariz., Arizona State University President Michael Crow, former Suns and Diamondbacks executive Rich Dozer and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio also support the measure.