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Gov. Jan Brewer Becomes Unlikely Obama Ally

Image: Gov. Jan Brewer Becomes Unlikely Obama Ally

By Greg Richter   |   Wednesday, 05 Jun 2013 10:10 PM

She was one of Obamacare's staunchest opponents, but Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has found something in President Barack Obama's health care law she likes: Medicaid expansion.

Her fellow Republicans don't like it, though, and are battling her in the state Legislature.

Brewer joined a multistate lawsuit to stop Obamacare in 2010, and says she still opposes the Affordable Care Act on constitutional grounds. But she says Medicaid, which provides health care for people with low incomes, existed in Arizona long before Obamacare was passed, and it just makes sense to try to add more qualified people to its rolls.

"We were all so adamant that we didn’t like Obamacare. We fought tooth and nail. But there comes a time, and you have to look at the reality. You have to do the math," Brewer told Politico.

"I did not make this decision lightly," she added. "It’s not only a mathematical issue, but it’s a moral issue."

The governor's office says that Medicaid expansion will give coverage back to 240,000 who lost it in 2011 over lack of funds and will add coverage for 57,000 more.

Other Republican governors have backed Medicaid expansion, including John Kasich of Ohio, Rick Snyder of Michigan and Rick Scott of Florida. But none have been so enthusiastic.

Brewer is holding rallies with groups that usually oppose Republicans, and conservative opponents are pushing a ballot initiative to block her efforts. Brewer says the Medicaid measure is part of the state budget and, therefore, can't be repealed by a ballot initiative. But former Republican lawmaker Frank Antenori, who is working on a petition drive to defeat the effort, says legal scholars have told him he is on solid ground.

"The voters here in Arizona aren’t stupid," Antenori told Politico. "They will kill this."

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