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Tobin's Alternative Medicaid Plan

House Speaker Andy Tobin is proposing his own alternative to Governor Jan Brewer's currently stalled plan to expand Medicaid. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer reports.

Brewer proposed in January tapping into the Federal Affordable Care Act to add 300,000 people to the state's Medicaid rolls. Arizona's $250 million share would be paid by an assessment on hospitals, generating about $1.6 billion in federal dollars.

But Tobin said the Governor's plan has shortcomings. More significant, he wants any expansion to be approved by voters and not left up to lawmakers. "This is a huge issue," Tobin said. "Obviously, potentially, possibly, most likely the largest expansion of any government department or program in decades, if not our history."

Brewer said she's willing to look at some of what Tobin wants - but not sending the issue to the ballot. She said, "I believe that we are all elected by the voters of Arizona to make these tough decisions. And I've got a proposal out there that I think we can explain."

But the governor's not particularly interested in getting into details of all that with voters. "It's really complex," Brewer said. "I think it's something that's very difficult, really, to try to get out there and explain. It's going to happen over the summer. It's going to be hot and difficult to get out there and campaign."

But Brewer has done that before, notably in 2010 in getting voters to approve her temporary sales tax hike.