PHOENIX - Governor Jan Brewer has been having a tough time selling her Medicaid expansion plan to some Republicans. The idea of growing AHCCCS, the state's program for the uninsured has been met with strong resistance, but also strong support.
During a rally at the state capitol on Wednesday, hundreds of people representing community groups, hospitals and other healthcare providers cheered as Brewer promised to keep fighting until lawmakers approved the expansion which is part of the federal Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
Brewer has been a vocal opponent of President Obama's healthcare reform, but she says it makes sense for Arizona to accept federal funding to expand Medicaid. While the bulk of the money would come from the federal government, Arizona would need to come up with about $200 million to cover as many as 300,000 new patients. Under Brewer's plan, hospitals would cover the cost through an assessment or tax.
State Representative David Livingston says hospitals support the expansion because they'll make money. "Every dollar they pay in tax, at the end of the year, they'll get ten dollars back. And, they're taking that from you, the American people. This is not a free lunch."
Arizona native and college student Brett Davila understands he's counting on taxpayers to keep him healthy. The state's Medicaid program, known as AHCCCS, covers the costs of his care for hemophilia, a rare disorder where the blood doesn't clot normally. He told the crowd, "I view AHCCCS as a temporary safety net. The coverage I'm receiving allows me to stay healthy so I can complete my education, get a good job and begin paying to the system that has given me so much."
Senate Majority Leader John McComish says he'll break with his fellow Republican, Senate President Andy Biggs, and introduce an amendment this week to expand Medicaid. McComish says he think it can pass the Senate, but is unsure about the House.