Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) scored a huge political victory last week as Grand Canyon State lawmakers finally endorsed her call to greatly expand access to the state's Medicaid program. The expansion, part of the $8.8 billion budget lawmakers also adopted, is expected to provide health care coverage to over 300,000 residents. Brewer is one of a handful of Republican governors who broke ranks with the GOP to endorse expanding the joint state-federal health plan, a hallmark of President Obama's Affordable Car Act. But her proposal had met fierce resistance in the GOP-controlled Legislature, particularly in the House. Brewer, however, refused to back down, vowing to veto all bills sent to her until lawmakers approved her proposal, a promise she kept in late May when she nixed five bills by Senate President Andy Biggs (R). Even so, progress was seemingly at a standstill until last Tuesday when a frustrated Brewer called lawmakers into a special session to hammer out an agreement. That drew howls of protest from many Republicans, including Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, who said he had "never seen a circumstance where a governor has rolled over her own party because she was throwing a temper tantrum." But the gambit worked, as nine House Republicans joined all 24 Democrats to support the proposal in the wee hours of Thursday morning. The Senate followed suit later that day. Brewer spokesperson Mathew Benson scoffed at Farnsworth's comments, calling the Medicaid debate the most important health issue the state had considered in three decades. "This is what the democratic process looks like," he said, "Anyone who finds that process abhorrent is in the wrong place." (ARIZONA CAPITOL TIMES [PHOENIX], EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE [MESA], BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK, WASHINGTON POST)
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