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Christie reports: "Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said Monday she plans to push for an expansion of the state's Medicaid program under the federal health care law, a surprising decision that could have an impact on other Republican governors weighing a similar decision."

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is now going to authorize Arizona to participate in Obamacare. (photo: Hazar N. Ghanbari/AP)
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is now going to authorize Arizona to participate in Obamacare. (photo: Hazar N. Ghanbari/AP)

Jan Brewer Caves to Obamacare

By Bob Christie, Associated Press

15 January 13


rizona Gov. Jan Brewer said Monday she plans to push for an expansion of the state's Medicaid program under the federal health care law, a surprising decision that could have an impact on other Republican governors weighing a similar decision.

Brewer has opposed the federal health care law known as the Affordable Care Act, citing worries over a potential overreliance on federal funding.

A provision in the 2010 law allows for states to increase Medicaid coverage, and Brewer told lawmakers in her annual State of the State address on Monday that virtually all of the expansion would be funded by the federal government. Not taking the money wouldn't contribute to the lowering of federal deficits, she said.

Any increase would also "include a circuit-breaker that automatically" would roll back enrollment if federal reimbursement rates decrease, Brewer said.

"I won't allow Obamacare to become a bait-and-switch," she said.

Brewer's decision was being closely watched across the country, particularly since Arizona was among the states that sued to overturn Obama's law. After the last summer's Supreme Court ruling upholding the law, Brewer considered a partial expansion, but the administration rejected that approach.

Brewer on Monday cited President Barack Obama's re-election and the Supreme Court ruling as evidence of the law's permanence.

She also referenced a brief and unpleasant encounter between her and the president that was captured by photographers. The argument on a Mesa airport tarmac was a highly visible demonstration of the verbal and legal skirmishing that has regularly occurred between Brewer and Obama's administration over illegal immigration and other issues.

A smiling Brewer told lawmakers that Arizona can't simply wag its finger at the federal government.

"Trust me: I tried that once," she said.

The Supreme Court ruling said states were free to accept or reject the expansion, and several GOP governors have said they will not go forward, including Rick Perry in Texas, Bobby Jindal in Louisiana and Nikki Haley in South Carolina.

Another Republican governor considering Medicaid expansion is Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who faces pressure from hospitals and other state constituencies but has said he's concerned about the potential costs of the expansion.

"I think this speaks to how this is a very good offer on the table," said Joan Alker, co-director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. "This puts pressure on other governors, like Gov. Scott in Florida, where there is a lot of debate right now."

Republicans have a majority in Arizona's House and Senate, which must approve the expansion. Brewer's announcement took even her own party's Legislative leaders by surprise.

"That was a bit of a shocker," Senate President Andy Biggs told reporters after the speech.

The announcement was a surprise even to journalists who were provided an advance copy of Brewer's speech — minus the section on the Medicaid expansion. Brewer said as recently as last week she would make a decision soon, but didn't hint it would come in the State of the State address.

Seventeen states and Washington D.C. have now signed onto the expansion, and nine have opted out. The rest are weighing the decision.

Overall, the Medicaid expansion accounts for about half the 30 million uninsured people expected to eventually gain coverage under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.

The law expanded Medicaid to cover low-income people making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $15,400 a year for a single person. That provision will mainly benefit low-income childless adults, who currently can't get Medicaid in most states. Separately, the overhaul provides subsidized private insurance for middle-class households.

Under the legislation, Washington would pay the entire cost of the Medicaid expansion for the first three years, gradually phasing down to 90 percent of the cost after that. It's a far more generous matching rate than the federal government provides for other parts of the Medicaid program.

Brewer told lawmakers that expanding Medicaid would help poor Arizonans and help hospitals and caregivers who now must give care without pay. An estimated 300,000 more Arizonans would be eligible for the state's version of Medicaid under the full expansion.

Biggs said it was premature to say whether lawmakers would support the expansion.

"We don't even know what the plan is," he said.

Republican state Rep. John Kavanagh, an opponent of expanding Medicaid, said he doubted the governor's plan will clear the Legislature.

"The Legislature doesn't like Obamacare, and this is a critical part of it," he said.

Senate Minority Leader Leah Landrum Taylor said not expanding Medicaid would continue to leave the poor without care and hospitals stuck with costs.

"The number of jobs that it's going to create, the number of lives it's going to save, it's people that need the health care," she said. "And the writing is on the wall. We can't continue this way." your social media marketing partner


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+25 # mike/ 2013-01-15 16:11
do the GOP governors who are rejecting the Affordable Care Act realize that their own citizens will be contributing to it, much like Social Security, and therefore are 'entitle' to participate? oh, said! when they say the word 'entitlement' they think it is a synonym for free gift as being on the dole. sorry guys, an entitlement is a right that people have to use the money that they themselves have paid into.

yes there will be people who do not contribute, but the hope is with more people being insured we will have less to pay because the insurance companies will have, oh say, about 6 million new enrollees. the insurance companies' deafening silence through most of this, aside from cursory comments they were 'supposed' to make, speaks a lot.

and Jan Brewer does not want to be called the fool she is...
+14 # Phlippinout 2013-01-16 00:37
The little meat head finally came to her senses
+26 # candida 2013-01-16 00:40
jan brewer making a decision on behalf of people in need?!?! pigs must be flying somewhere!! that picture of her pointing at the president of the united states, though, i'll never get over. what a despicable excuse for a governor! what an embarrassment to our state along with the rest of the republican dominated legislature, their xenophobia and misogyny (in spite of a female governor). excuse me... i feel a dry heave coming on, and it's not from the desert air!!
+13 # Phlippinout 2013-01-16 09:47
Yes she is quite the embarrassment! Just remember, Arizona, its a dry hate!
+11 # rockieball 2013-01-16 10:23
The GOP hypocrites strike again. At the next election she will say she was forced to take the money.
+4 # ABen 2013-01-16 22:23
Fortunately, for those of us who live in AZ, she can't run again. Yea!! We only have to listen to the sound of hammers clanking together for a bit longer.
+7 # SOF 2013-01-16 18:39
Brewer made the choice because a slew of (even right wing) people and media finally got her to look at the numbers with a calculator. It was strictly for the Federal $$$$ handout vs using AZ money (which they steal from school funds), It's a dry hate and a shame that this incredibly beautiful, unique, and diverse state has been totally taken over by idiots who don't recognize what is truly valuable. Love the desert, the canyons, the Native and Mexican and (real) cowboy cultures, but still horrified enuf to finally want to move. Too bad I spent my savings looking for nonexisting jobs.
+2 # jmac9 2013-01-17 13:01
Brewer is another right wing fruitcake.

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