Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, previously a stalwart opponent of Obamacare, has made a dramatic turnaround with her newfound support of Medicaid expansion. She is insistent that the expansion will save money and lives, and her office declares it will give coverage to 240,000 people who lost it in 2011 and add 57,000 more to the rolls.
“We were all so adamant that we didn’t like Obamacare…but…you have to do the math. I do not make this decision lightly,” Brewer told Politico.
Brewer participated in a multistate lawsuit in 2010 to thwart Obamacare. Her current position on the issue stands in stark contrast to her previous defiance of the Obama White House. Though once embraced by Arizona conservatives for her tough stance on the Obama administration and illegal immigration, many of her supporters are sure to view her new position as hypocritical.
Brewer argues that Medicaid existed in Arizona long before Obamacare passed, and that it makes sense to expand it. She is committed to vetoing any legislation that reaches her until the Republican legislature yields.
“It’s not only a mathematical issue, it’s a moral issue,” Brewer said.
The governor still holds the position that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional. Her website states: “Nobody in Arizona has done more to oppose the Affordable Care Act than Governor Brewer…the governor has consistently fought for health reforms with more patient choice, fewer costs and less bureaucracy. But the Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land.”
Opponents are pushing a ballot initiative to thwart Brewer that could postpone expansion until at least 2015. However, Brewer insists that Medicaid cannot be repealed by a ballot initiative because it is part of the state budget. She is actively pushing expansion across the state by holding rallies, airing commercials, making speeches, and teaming up with other expansion advocates.
“That we are getting Obamacare by our governor is shocking, to say the least,” said Christine Bauserman, a Republican activist from Pima County. “I believe she’s in a bubble room wrapped with bubble wrap with cotton balls in her ears.”
Other Republican governors backing Medicaid expansion include Rick Snyder of Michigan, Rick Scott of Florida, and John Kasich of Ohio. However, none have championed the cause with as much as eagerness as Brewer.