A governor surrounded by public health officials stood on the steps of her state Capitol last week, demanding that policymakers accept the Medicaid expansion included in the Affordable Care Act. Making her case, the governor warned of dire consequences if the state failed to act: “The human cost of this tragedy can’t be calculated.”
A progressive governor of a “blue” state? No, it was Arizona’s conservative Republican governor, Jan Brewer.
When Brewer grudgingly accepted “Obamacare” expansion in January, she stunned much of the political world with her decision – the governor is not exactly a moderate with a record of cooperation with the Obama administration. But Brewer looked at the numbers, saw her state’s needs, and made the right decision, even if her party wasn’t happy about it.
Indeed, one of the striking aspects of the debate at this point is the extent to which Brewer is fighting to expand Medicaid with impassioned pleas and the extent to which her own party is fighting her decision.
Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona stepped to the lectern on Tuesday under blazing sunshine and before a mostly friendly audience to introduce a Medicaid expansion bill she has championed.
In her brief remarks, Ms. Brewer twice used the word “conservative” to describe Arizona’s Medicaid program, a managed-care system whose cost per patient is $680 less than the national average, and the bill she was endorsing, which would extend Medicaid coverage to anyone who made up to 133 percent of the federal poverty line.
The governor pulled out all the stops, even describing her policy as “pro-life” as a way of nudging her party to join her. Brewer was also eager to tout the support of “more than 110 groups … including associations representing hospitals, doctors and even county sheriffs.”
For now, however, the governor is still struggling to persuade her own allies. Brewer isn’t alone in this endeavor.
Just ask Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R).
It was a huge coup for the Obama administration when they won Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s endorsement of the Medicaid expansion. In his state alone, the Obamacare program could cover 1.3 million people.
But the governor wasn’t the only endorsement they had to secure: The Republican-controlled Florida legislature would also need to sign off on the expansion. And as of Monday afternoon, they don’t appear inclined to move forward: Committees in the Florida House and Senate have rejected the Medicaid expansion as proposed by Gov. Scott.
And in Ohio, where Gov. John Kasich (R) has also endorsed the White House’s Medicaid expansion policy, Tea Party activists protested a Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner where the governor spoke, condemning him for expanding health care access to low-income families.
I suppose no good deed goes unpunished.