In her State of the State address Monday, Jan Brewer announced that she will accept the Medicaid expansion which is part of the dreaded Obamacare. She explained that she simply could not turn down the Federal money, as it would then go to other states. Brewer is now the third Republican governor to swallow her pride and accept at least this part of the Affordable Care Act, following Susana Martinez (NM) and Brian Sandoval (NV) in deciding that maybe the ACA isn’t quite as bad as they thought it to be. She will, however, not participate in the state-run health insurance exchanges, one of 25 states that will force the Federal government to set the exchanges up. I find that rather odd considering that these are the very people who scream about letting the states take care of their own business. I guess being stubborn trumps being consistent.
It must have been very hard, indeed, for Brewer to say that the ACA had been upheld by the Supreme Court and “…is not going anywhere, at least not for the time being.” She admitted that the Medicare funds will help boost the state’s Medicaid program and aid rural hospitals. She even went as far as to create a state plan that would deal with the possibility – at least in her mind – of the Federal government reducing matching rates (beyond what is in the ACA) in the future. Of course, the way it would handle that would be to shrink the program down, leaving poor people without any medical coverage whatsoever. Her reasoning? “”I will not allow Obamacare to become a bait and switch.” This, she called the “gold standard” for the nation.
Democratic State legislators are optimistic, even before they read the details of the plan. The business community of Arizona will be pleased, too, as they were pushing Brewer in this direction. The problems may come when they try to get the plan through the GOP-controlled legislature. The Tea Party loyalists are not very bright, though, when it comes to doing the right thing for economic development. But since not passing it is likely to kill Arizona’s hospital system, maybe they can be talked around. Let’s hope for the sake of Arizona’s poor and ill that happens.
There are still 10 states that will refuse the Federal money that comes with the Medicaid expansion that is part of the Affordable Care Act, which the Supreme Court said they could do when they ruled on the ACA’s constitutionality last summer. Among the governors who will allow those below the poverty line to go without any kind of health care coverage are Rick Perry of Texas and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. Individuals with annual incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty line – $14,856 or less – are ostensibly able to enroll, but not in Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, South Dakota, Maine and Louisiana. Coincidentally, all of those states have Tea Party darlings in the governor’s mansion. Men and women who never have to worry about where their health care is coming from… the people who work and pay taxes in their states. Maybe they should do without it for awhile, just to see what that’s like. Let them lie up sick in their mansions and worry for a bit, see if that opens their eyes even a little. In my opinion, it would be only fair. But at least Arizona’s governor has seen… something. Let’s be thankful for that, anyway.
T. Steelman is a life-long Liberal. She has been writing online about politics since 2007. She lives in Western Washington with her husband, daughter, 2 cats and a small herd of alpacas. How can anybody be enlightened? Truth is, after all, so poorly lit…