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Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer Announces State Will Implement Medicaid Expansion

Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer has announced that she will move forward to implement the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion in her state. She made the decision public in her annual State of the State address. This expansion would extend coverage to 240,000 Arizonans and bring $1.6 billion in federal funds to the state in 2014.

A recent New York Times article reports that Governor Brewer summed up her support for the expansion by saying, “There’s no way you can look at this issue and say this is not the right thing for Arizona at this time.”

Brewer joins two other Republican Governors from the Southwest, Brian Sandoval of Nevada and Susana Martinez of New Mexico, in moving forward with the Medicaid expansion. Presently, the only other Republican governor to support the expansion is Jack Dalrymple of North Dakota.

The article suggests that the large sum of federal funds available through the expansion serves as a compelling motivation for governors. All of the Republican governors in support of the expansion cited increased federal funding and more jobs as important considerations, as the economic recovery continues at only a moderate pace, particularly in states that have been especially hard-hit with high unemployment in recent years.

Additionally, the political and demographic realities of the rapidly growing Latino population are similarly strong arguments in favor of the expansion for the three Republican governors from the Southwest. Latinos are both a large portion of the population who will gain coverage through the program expansion in these states, as well as an increasingly large voting bloc.

Nevertheless, Governor Brewer’s announcement surprised some observers, given her strong support of conservative policies—most visibly on immigration—as well as her vocal criticism of President Obama. While the Affordable Care Act provides states with 100% federal financing for three years and no less than 90% federal financing thereafter for beneficiaries who will gain coverage through the expansion, Brewer’s plan includes a “circuit breaker” provision that will freeze coverage for childless adults in Arizona if any future federal action drops the federal share of expansion funding below 80%. The expansion proposal will require the approval of the Arizona Legislature to be enacted.

 

Prepared by John Connolly.

For the full New York Times article: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/20/us/politics/medicaid-expansion-is-delicate-maneuver-for-arizona-governor.html?_r=0

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