Brewer looking for more support on Medicaid expansion

May 16, 2013

In January, Republican Governor Jan Brewer surprised many by supporting the expansion of Medicaid in Arizona known as AHCCCS. Four months later, she is still drumming up support for the plan, but some legislators and voters are not sold on the idea.

basha The protesters were outnumbered by supporters at the rally.(Photo by Stina Sieg-KJZZ)

"It’s the right thing to do."

That was a common refrain at a rally at the Capitol Wednesday in favor of expansion, which would add about 300,000 more low-income people to AHCCCS. It was Brewer’s fourth and biggest rally so far, with hundreds of supporters and several dozen protesters. Brewer asked the crowd point-blank to help her convince legislators to back the $1.6 billion expansion.

“Call them, email them,” she said, loudly. “Better yet, do both. Be polite, but firm, and tell them how critical this issue is to you and your family.”

Brewer faces opposition from within her own party. State Representative John Kavanagh said the plan goes against his conservative principles. For Kavanagh, the real rub is that it relies on funds from the Affordable Care Act, which he did not support.

“Everything Republicans have said and done, eat and slept, for the last four or five years has been ‘No ObamaCare,’” Kavanagh said, matter-of-factly. “And now we’re going to expand it? And then double down on danger by expanding it in a way that we can’t afford, that’s going to bankrupt our nation? I just can’t do it. I can’t do it as a good American, as an Arizona citizen, as a state representative.”

Kavanagh is not the only one. Republican legislators remain split on the issue, and the Senate’s new proposed budget allots no money for the plan.

At Wednesday’s rally, protesters against the expansion even gave AHCCCS a new name, BrewerCare.  

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