The Arizona Senate is poised to pass an $8.8 billion state budget Thursday that includes the Medicaid expansion sought by Republican Gov. Jan Brewer as she embraces a signature part of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law over the opposition of most GOP legislators.
The Arizona House passed the proposals early Thursday after working through the night, putting Brewer one vote away from a huge political victory that will expand health care to 300,000 more low-income Arizonans. Conservatives proposed more than 50 amendments and debated for more than 12 hours in an attempt to block the inevitable, but they didn’t have the votes to stop the Medicaid expansion or the budget deal.
Brewer seems like a strange champion for using this part of Obamacare, but she has taken aggressive action to force the legislature to embrace it, including calling a special session.
Brewer has long argued that it would be stupid not to take part in what is a very good deal for the state, when rejecting it would gain the state nothing. The people of Arizona have twice voted to expand Medicaid, so Brewer feels this is the best way to fulfill the will of the people.
The Supreme Court ruling made the Medicaid expansion under the ACA optional. As a result, many other Republican led states have rejected it even though the federal government would cover a large part of the cost. At this point it looks like at least 20 states will not take part in 2014.
The bulk of the coverage expansion under Obamacare was supposed to come from the expansion of Medicaid, so Republican opposition means the law will cover significantly fewer people than originally planned.