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Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer rams through Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Philip Klein,Obamacare,Medicare and Medicaid

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, working with Democrats against members of her own party, rammed through a vast expansion of the Medicaid program under Obamacare through the state legislature, putting federal taxpayers on the hook for billions of dollars in health care spending.

Despite claiming to oppose President Obama’s health care law, Brewer embraced one of the law’s most expensive provisions — a Medicaid expansion — in January, under the influence of lobbying from the hospital industry.

Brewer then spent the past several months trying to coax reluctant members of her own party to back the measure. When that failed, she called a special session of the state legislature, and formed an alliance with Democrats to ram the bill through the state House at 3:40 am this morning.

As a result of the lawsuit that Arizona was a part of, the Supreme Court ruled that states must be given the option of whether or not to accept the expansion of Medicaid that was part of the health care law. It is expected to pass through the senate.

Arizona Republic reports:

House Speaker Andy Tobin, R-Paulden, and the rest of House leadership joined conservatives to oppose the 2014 budget, offer more than 50 amendments and hours of speeches in an effort to kill Medicaid expansion and wear down what has become a rock solid 33-member bipartisan group…

“I feel like I’ve been punched in the gut,” said Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Peoria. “And I feel like I’ve been betrayed.”

Though federal taxpayers pay for 100 percent of the Medicaid expansion at first, over time, that percentage dwindles to 90 percent, exposing states to a huge financial burden. In 2012, Medicaid already accounted for 24 percent of state budgets nationwide, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers, making it larger than than any other component of spending, including education. The expansion of Medicaid is projected to cost $710 billion over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office, but it could be more if more Republican governors such as Brewer fight successfully to expand the program. Last month, a major study found that Medicaid does not approve the physical health of its beneficiaries.

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