Republican Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer To Raise Taxes To Pay For Obamacare Medicaid Expansion

Source: Associated Press

Republican Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer To Raise Taxes To Pay For Obamacare Medicaid Expansion
By BOB CHRISTIE 01/20/13 01:28 PM ET EST

PHOENIX -- Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has built a political career in standing up to the federal government over everything from immigration to health care. So she surprised almost everyone when she announced last week that she not only plans to push for an expansion of the state's Medicaid program under the federal health care law she plans to fund it by raising taxes.

A conservative Republican, Brewer is believed to be the first governor to publicly come up with a way to fund the controversial Medicaid expansion. Not even California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat in a state that largely supports the new federal health plan, has figured out how to pay for a boosted Medicaid plan.

Her proposal to add about 300,000 low-income Arizonans to her state's Medicaid plan relies on funding from hospitals through a so-called provider tax. The idea is already used to fund some Medicaid plans in 39 states, but none have tapped it to pay for the federal expansion and many have at least some room to expand their hospital taxes.

The Medicaid expansion is intended to cover about half of the 30 million uninsured people expected to eventually gain coverage under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. The law expanded Medicaid to cover low-income people making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $15,400 a year for a single person. That provision will mainly benefit low-income childless adults, who currently can't get Medicaid in most states. Separately, the overhaul provides subsidized private insurance for middle-class households.


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