Two More Republican Governors Propose Medicaid Expansion

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple joined the governors of New Mexico and Nevada to call for expansion of Medicaid as allowed under the Affordable Care Act.

According to the AP Gov. Brewer announced her support on Monday, Jan. 14, in her annual State of the State address. The expansion would bring the state $7.9 billion in federal funds over the next four years and expand Medicaid coverage to an estimated 300,000 residents. As in many states, health care providers are supportive of the expansion and many legislators are leery given the budgetary burden to the state. One newspaper noted that several Democratic legislators stood to applaud her off-script announcement while Republicans remained silent. To further calm Republicans’ concerns she said lawmakers would need to approve the expansion. She said circuit-breakers would allow the state to shrink enrollment if federal funding declined in the future. She also said an Arizona hospital tax would “assure the state general fund bears no cost” in expanding Medicaid eligibility.

In North Dakota, Gov. Dalrymple included Medicaid expansion in his budget proposal despite his opposition to the federal health care reform bill. Legislators in N.D. may also revisit last year’s decision to forego operating a state-based health insurance exchange according to the AP.