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Editorial: Many back Brewer on Medicaid plan

April 2, 2013
The Prescott Daily Courier
Editorial board

One Republican has called her "Judas," and others in her party are not happy either about her support for Medicaid expansion, a key component of President Obama's healthcare reform.

This past month we told you about how a Maricopa County GOP official went too far in comparing Gov. Jan Brewer's - as he put it "betrayal of the Republican Party" - to Jesus' betrayer.

To review, in January Brewer announced her plan to participate in the Medicaid expansion. "Try as we might, the law was upheld by the United States Supreme Court," she said of her decision. Brewer was the third Republican governor to agree to accept the Medicaid funds, and several others have followed suit. However, her decision has drawn immense criticism from Arizona conservatives. Her "Judas" detractor, who also is a Tea Party member, has been one of Brewer's most outspoken critics. "If you're a Republican, then act like a Republican," he said.

Ironically, however, we are seeing a groundswell of support in Yavapai County. Register the following:

• Tim Barnett, president and CEO of Yavapai Regional Medical Center: "We at the hospital treat people that have no other options..." The plan would cover "the working poor in our communities, people trying to make a living, trying to make a go of it."

• Sheila Polk, county attorney: "We saw and have seen an increasing impact on our criminal justice system" as a result of a statewide 2011 freeze on enrollment in the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), the state's Medicaid program. When people untreated for mental illness end up in jail, "we treat them, we stabilize them, we address the criminal offense, where they still don't qualify for AHCCCS."

• Scott Mascher, county sheriff: "I don't think there's any question that our mental health (treatment) procedures are broken," noting that the YCSO gets phone calls from people saying, "'This person needs help,' but they don't fit into any (indigent care) program."

• Finally, Craig Brown, county supervisor: "I, in no way, shape or form support Obamacare," but he sees that this particular part would be good for Arizona.

That led on Monday to the all-Republican Yavapai County Board of Supervisors' 5-0 approval of a resolution in favor of Brewer's efforts.

It certainly makes sense for Yavapai County and its residents for the above reasons. As for Brewer betraying Republicans, it all depends on your frame of reference and constituents' needs. Things must be very different in Maricopa County.

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