State Capitol News
4:21 pm
Wed December 9, 2009

Brewer fighting health care reform

Phoenix, AZ – Governor Jan Brewer went to Washington Tuesday, at least in part
to convince Congress to reject efforts to enact health care
reform at the expense of states.

Brewer said the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the
state's Medicaid program, already provides coverage for 1.3
million residents below the federal poverty level, about $18,000
a year for a family of three.

While the federal government picks
up about two thirds of the cost, the balance falls on Arizona
taxpayers to the tune of about $1 billion a year. Now Congress is
looking at requiring states to cover everyone up to 150 percent
of the federal poverty level.

Brewer said that's not fair, even
if the feds pay a share.

"The basic bottom line is that they're taxing our state to get us
to do the program that they're mandating. I mean, we're getting
hit from both sides. Totally, totally unfair. I don't get it."

Brewer said the message she took to Washington was that the
federal government needs to recognize the state's financial
condition.

"They know -- some of them certainly understand -- that we cannot
sustain the mandate. And then charge us to pay for it. I mean, if
they mandate, then send the money. And that's not what they're
doing. Period. Cut and dried."

Brewer said AHCCCS enrollment is increasing at the rate of 20,000
a month as the economy and rising unemployment already entitle
more and more people to free care.