Brewer’s Medicaid hardball pays off in Arizona

Brewer's Medicaid hardball pays off in Arizona
Brewer's Medicaid hardball pays off in Arizona
Associated Press

In an unexpected turn of events, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) recently became one of the nation’s most enthusiastic proponents of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, despite opposition from her Republican allies. In an even more unexpected development, her efforts paid off.

Last month, Brewer was so determined to get her Republican-run state legislature to accept Medicaid expansion, she vowed to veto every bill approved by lawmakers on any subject until they agreed. When they tested her, the governor followed through on the threat.

As a result, yesterday, Brewer got what she wanted.

Arizona will expand Medicaid to cover nearly 300,000 poor residents next year after a bipartisan coalition passed a measure backed by Gov. Jan Brewer (R) through the state legislature on Thursday.

Brewer, a conservative and avowed foe of President Barack Obama’s health care reform law, announced her support for the Medicaid expansion in January, but faced stiff resistance from fellow Republicans in Arizona’s House and Senate. During a marathon session that began Wednesday afternoon and stretched into the wee hours of Thursday morning before culminating in a final vote late Thursday afternoon, a handful of Republicans joined Democrats in the House and Senate to pass the Medicaid expansion.

As a political matter, it’s a pleasant surprise to see President Obama’s health care law receive this kind of boost from a conservative Republican governor with no love for the White House, but as a policy matter, the 300,000 low-income Arizonans who’ll now be able to receive affordable medical care probably don’t give a darn about the politics.

Also note, it’s not just Arizona – Michigan’s Republican-led state House also approved Medicaid expansion last night, with a 76 to 31 vote. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) is calling on the state Senate to follow suit.