Medicaid expansion down but not out, state lawmakers say - Tucson News Now

Medicaid expansion down but not out, state lawmakers say

PHOENIX (CBS5) -

It's a controversial issue that will impact Arizona for years to come.

State lawmakers are still discussing medicaid expansion and whether Arizona will *opt-in and provide health coverage to more than 350,000 Arizonans.

On Monday, the House Appropriations Committee defeated SB1492, the Governor's plan  to expand Medicaid under the federal government's Affordable Care Act.

"Every Republican on this committee voted no," said (R)State Rep. John Kavanaugh (Fountain Hills). "The sentiment among Republicans, universally, is 'no' to Obama Care."

But just because Medicaid expansion was voted down, that doesn't mean it's out.

A bi-partisan group of lawmakers is already working on ways to bring the bill back on the House floor Tuesday by attaching it to another piece of legislation.

"We're going to get it passed," said (D) Chad Campbell (Phoenix). "The majority of this body supports it, but you have a minority group of legislators right now, overriding the will of the majority. We're going to get this passed.."

Medicaid expansion has been a heated topic of debate since Gov. Jan Brewer rolled out her support for it, earlier this year.

Expanding Medicaid would provide health coverage to roughly 350,000 low income Arizonans, and would be funded almost entirely by the federal government, over the first few years.

Supporters and opponents of Medicaid expansion had a chance to voice their opinion, to state lawmakers, during today's committee hearing.

Glen Hamer is president of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce.

"You have virtually every major chamber of commerce in this state and every major economic development organization in this state, strongly supports the governor's medical plan," Hamer said.

"I think it's the most salient issue of our day," said (R) State Rep. Carl Seel(Cave Creek). "To expand Obama Care in light of what it is and what it will do to the public, will bankrupt the state. It would be the single biggest tragedy of our lifetime."

Carl told CBS5 News that the federal government doesn't have the money to pay for the program and Arizona would face another financial crisis, if lawmakers approve Medicaid expansion.

Medicaid expansion is expected to generate more than a billion dollars in federal funds for Arizona's economy. 

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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