Former state lawmaker Doris Goodale dies at age 71

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Doris Goodale, a former member of the Arizona House who was one of a handful of Republican lawmakers who joined with minority Democrats in 2013 to back former Gov. Jan Brewer’s Medicaid expansion plan, has died. She was 71.

Goodale died Friday, said Rep. Regina Cobb, a longtime friend who replaced her in 2015.

Goodale, of Kingman, had been in declining health after suffering a severe stroke after the 2013 session and recently was recovering from a coronavirus infection, Cobb said. She died of natural causes. Cobb did not know if the virus was a factor.

After suffering the stroke in September 2013 that caused partial paralysis, Goodale returned to the Legislature for the 2014 session using a wheelchair. Members from both Democratic and Republican parties would help her stand for the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of each day’s session.

Goodale was elected to the House in 2008 and served three terms. She chaired the House Education Committee for two years. An Arizona State University graduate, she was a school board member in Kingman from 1988-2005 and worked as a Mohave County probation officer from 1972-2005, retiring as the assistant chief probation officer, according to biographical information compiled by the Arizona Capitol Times.

The 2013 session was a historic one, and Goodale was right in the thick of it. Republicans who controlled both chambers were mostly opposed to Brewer's decision to expand Medicaid, a key part of former President Barack Obama's health care law.

But Brewer, a Republican, put together a coalition that included all Democrats and enough Republicans in the House and Senate to win a majority. Even though she had the votes, former House Speaker Andy Tobin and then-Senate President Andy Biggs for weeks refused to put the proposal up for a vote.

Brewer and expansion backers finally had enough. The governor called lawmakers into a special session, and Medicaid backers forced Tobin and Biggs to bring up the expansion bill. On the night it passed, Goodale was subjected to bitter recrimination from Republican opponents, but she held her ground and voted for the bill.

“It was such a hard thing to watch – because you know she was getting beat up pretty bad for that,” Cobb said. “But our hospital at that time, it would have gone under without Medicaid expansion. And I think her heart was in her local community.”

The expansion restored coverage to childless adults who lost coverage after the Great Recession forced state budget cuts. The expansion also added a large group of low-income Arizonans who previously earned too much for coverage but could not afford to buy health insurance. More than 450,000 Arizonans are now covered under the expansion.

Goodale is survived by a twin sister and two grown children. Her husband of 38 years, Bill, died in 2012.