Saying it makes no sense to turn away federal funds, Gov. Jan Brewer this afternoon asked lawmakers to expand the state's Medicaid program.
Arizona voters have twice mandated the state provide free care for everyone up to the federal poverty level, about $19,000 a year for a family of three. The Affordable Care Act provides additional federal dollars if the state moves that to 138 percent. Brewer told lawmakers that while she opposed what's been called Obama-care, it's not going away. So Arizona should join in.
"With this move we will secure a federal revenue stream to cover the cost of the uninsured who already show up in our doctors' offices and emergency rooms," the Governor said in her State of the State Address.
And Brewer told the Republican-controlled Legislature they should not let their philosophical opposition deter them from going along.
"Saying no to this plan would not save these federal dollars from being spent or direct them to deficit reduction," she said. "No, Arizona's tax dollars would simply be passed to another state, generating jobs and providing health care for citizens in California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico or any other expansion state."
Senate President Andy Biggs said he's willing to listen to what the governor wants but remains concerned that state taxpayers could end up on the financial hook.