Gov. Jan Brewer rallied hospital executive and business leaders Wednesday in her bid to expand the state's Medicaid program.
The event organized by the governor was designed not only to boost support for the plan but to get her political cover with Republican legislators who gave it a decidedly cool reception when she announced it Monday. On the health end of the issue she presented Judy Rich of Tucson Medical Center.
"We've seen our uncompensated care close to triple in the last 18 months," Rich said. "And other hospitals across the state have also struggled under the weight of the dramatic increases of bad debt and charity care."
The plan would tax hospitals $220 million a year. But that would leverage $1.7 billion in federal dollars and provide coverage for 240,000 uninsured. The business link came from Todd Sanders of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce.
"The reality is when some people receive free care, these costs don't disappear," Sanders said. "And I think that's been talked about here. They're absorbed by other payors in the system, specifically employers and their employees, our chamber members."
Brewer acknowledged deep GOP opposition to what's been dubbed Obamacare.
"But the decision faced by Arizona leaders today is not one of whether the Affordable Care Act should exist. It's the law of the land," the Governor pointed out. "Our decision is whether we will take the action that most benefits Arizona's families and businesses."