Medicaid expansion complicates budget agreement

April 15, 2013

Efforts to reach a budget agreement at the state capitol are being complicated by Governor Jan Brewer's proposal to expand Medicaid, a plan one lawmaker says is paralyzing the process.

Republican Al Melvin of Tucson is accusing Brewer of threatening lawmakers with holding them in session indefinitely.

“The governor was delivering the speech and, I don’t know if she meant it to be humorous or not, but she mentioned September and it’s kind of like a veiled threat actually, and I don’t appreciate it,” Melvin said.

Melvin warns if the Medicaid expansion is approved, balanced budgets will be a thing of the past. But, the governor plans to use federal funds to cover the 300,000 AHCCCS patients in the expansion and says she recognizes the concerns of opposing lawmakers.

“I believe strongly that it’s a difficult issue,” Brewer said. “There’s a lot of, if you will, hairy arms out there in regards to health care and that we have the ability to solve that. That’s what we’re all elected to do down here.”

The state's budget has been balanced the last couple years, after bleeding red ink during the recession.

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