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Today the Arizona PIRG Education Fund released a white paper Mediating for Citizens: Ombudsmen in Arizona, which provides detailed information about the ombudsmen offices in the state. Ombudsman offices provide an outlet for citizens to resolve legitimate grievances with government agencies. Some provisions of the new federal healthcare legislation came into effect last week and one recommendation of the healthcare bill is that states create an ombudsman office to help people work through any problems they have with the new regulations.
“Ombudsmen are one important way that Arizona has made the state government more transparent to its citizens,” stated Serena Unrein, Public Interest Advocate for the Arizona PIRG Education Fund. “Ombudsman can bolster public confidence in government through promoting the accountability of public officials and state agencies.”
The white paper focuses primarily on the Arizona Ombudsman-Citizens’ Aide Office, which is an office of the state legislative branch, and handles complaints dealing with state agencies and public access matters. The report recommends that an ombudsman staff position be created to handle questions and complaints regarding the new federal healthcare legislation and that adequate funding be provided for this position.
“As parts of the healthcare legislation come into effect, Arizona should act swiftly on the recommendation of the report to create a healthcare ombudsman,” said Matt Jewett, Director of Health Policy for the Children’s Action Alliance. “It will be important for Arizonans to have a place to turn if they run into any questions or problems with the new healthcare law.”
In addition to outlining the duties of the Ombudsman office, the Arizona PIRG Education Fund report details the process citizens take for filing a complaint with the Ombudsman and reviews the results of the complaints that have been filed with the Ombudsman office.
“Ombudsmen play an important role to increase transparency in state government. We encourage more Arizonans to learn about the role of the Ombudsman and state resources available to answer relevant questions and complaints,” said Unrein.
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