NORMAN — Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer announced that her state would expand its Medicaid rolls as part of the Affordable Care Act. Like Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, Brewer was cool to the idea of increased spending at the federal level and some costs to the state down the road.
But the Republican governor acknowledged this week in her state of the state address that opting out would simply deprive Arizona of federal dollars and not save taxpayers money. The uninsured would still come to hospital emergency rooms, clinics and doctor’s offices.
Ten governors, including those in Texas and Florida, remain in opposition to expanding Medicaid rolls. Twenty-five states, including Oklahoma, also have decided not to set up their own insurance exchanges.
“Saying ‘no’ to this plan would not save these federal dollars from being spent or direct them to deficit reduction,” Brewer said. “No, Arizona’s tax dollars would simply be passed to another state.”
Arizona should receive almost $1.6 billion in its first year and will add 240,000 uninsured people to Medicaid rolls.
Oklahomans are planning to put the same kind of pressure on their governor. The Coalition for Medicaid Expansion will sponsor a rally Feb. 5 at the state Capitol. A petition asking the governor to reconsider has more than 4,000 signatures.