Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has been on a kind of Medicaid crusade, working with the once-maligned Democratic side of the Legislative aisle and doing her best to convert the Republican majority to support her initiative to expand Medicaid with federal dollars.
At a rally held in front of the state House of Representatives Tuesday afternoon, Brewer gave the most powerful message yet in her quest to expand Medicaid: "I am a pro-life governor," she declared, "and I refuse to stand by while people suffer."
Now that's something.
Too often, the pro-life movement has focused only on unborn children, or fetuses, or whatever you wish to call the contents of a pregnant woman. Too often, the pro-life movement seem more intent on embarrassing and harassing women in very difficult circumstances. Very few endorse birth control measures, and many equate it with abortion.
Jan Brewer, who herself entered politics on a pro-life ticket, has stepped aside and recognized the right to life and health among the living.
Brewer's quest is unusual for a governor who led the charge to overturn the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare). Having lost most of that fight in the Supreme Court, she has turned her attention to the rest of the Act. Somewhere, somehow, she's recognized that it offers real solutions for some of the hundreds of thousands of Arizonans who lack health insurance coverage. (It's hard to find an exact number but it could be as much as one million.)
Tuesday's rally featured just about all of Arizona's healthcare leaders and a couple of brave Republicans, including Rep. Heather Carter (R-District 7) and Sen. Steve Pierce, (R-District 1 and Majority Whip). Brewer needs their help; the Republicans in the House have lined up against her plan.
Brewer has chosen to fight in a very public arena. She has garnered the support of nearly every major healthcare entity in the state and visited any media outlet that will listen. She's branded AHCCCS, Arizona's Medicaid plan, a "conservative choice" and talks up its success in containing health care costs (the acronym stands for Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System). Arizona may have been dead last to accept Medicaid but it's run one of the most successful Medicaid programs in the nation.
Medicaid, the governor has implied if not declared outright, is itself pro-life. By accepting $8 billion in Affordable Care Act dollars over the next four years, the state can serve around 250,000 uninsured low-income Arizonans and take back 50,000 childless adults who were kicked off Medicaid over the past two years as the state chose to balance the budget by reducing services for the poor.
Insuring more people is pro-life.
Rural hospitals, often the only providers for hundreds of miles, will get the funds they need to stay open, upgrade equipment, and expand services. Helping hospitals stay open is pro-life.
Getting an $8 billion infusion into the economy will put some people back to work. Getting unemployed people back to work is pro-life.
I could go on, but you should get the point.
To learn more about the Medicaid expansion, visit the governor's webpage on this most vital measure.
Want to contact your state rep or senator? Here's the link to the Legislature's member roster.