Posted by: Donna
Governor Jan Brewer surprised the audience of her State of the State speech this afternoon by calling for expanding Arizona’s Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). Well, it’s not really so shocking considering how everyone from the Chamber of Commerce to the hospitals to the Children’s Action Alliance has been begging her to do it. But 10 other GOP governors have refused the expansion so it was reasonable to fear that Brewer would join them, especially since the Governor opted out of creating a state-based health insurance exchange.
Brewer placed her decision on Medicaid in the context of the main economic development theme of her speech. She told lawmakers that she did not want to forfeit the federal funds to other states that have agreed to expansion, singling out such neighboring states as California and Colorado. She said that the Medicaid expansion, which she described as “just slightly beyond” what voters had previously approved, would insert $2 billion into the Arizona economy.
She also promoted Arizona’s Medicaid expansion plan as “the gold standard” for the nation.
Interesting how Brewer didn’t mention that the Republican governors of New Mexico and Nevada opted into the Medicaid expansion, but there’s a good chance that had an influence as well. Without the expansion, Arizona would be nearly surrounded by states accepting the generous federal funding (the exception is Utah, where the hospital lobby has a weirdly fervent attachment to “free market solutions”).
It would have been great had Brewer also put her pro-Medicaid stance in a pro-life context, since making health care available to the hundreds of thousands of Arizonan adults and children who don’t currently have it would, you know, save a lot of people’s lives. Democrats can certainly seize that moral high ground and maybe nudge some Republican legislators into doing the right thing. So, too, can certain groups invested in *ahem* the “sanctity of life”.
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