Dalrymple succeeded in getting it past lawmakers so far.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a first-term Republican, tried to get Medicaid expansion passed as part of the state's two-year budget bill. The Republican-controlled House removed it from the measure last month.
Kasich has said he hasn't given up on legislative approval. If that fails, his administration is negotiating with federal authorities to develop an alternative plan that would allow it to use Medicaid dollars to help poor residents buy private health coverage. Advocates for the poor and mentally ill have also proposed a statewide ballot issue for expansion.
"I'm for whatever it takes to get this done because I think it's important for our state," Kasich told reporters May 7 in Columbus.
In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott's pitch to expand Medicaid was rejected by legislative committees in both the House and the Senate in March; lawmakers adjourned May 3 without passing an alternative plan.
The defeat was a setback for Scott, who started his political career by financing a tea party group that opposed Obama's health law and faces re-election next year. His support for Medicaid upset tea partyers and didn't move his 36 percent approval rating, according to a March 20 poll from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut.
Florida Democrats, including U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, have asked Scott to force lawmakers back to the capital to address the issue. Scott told reporters May 3 that the legislature "made their decision" on Medicaid.
Brewer, like Scott and Kasich, was no fan of the president's health law. Arizona was among the 26 Republican-controlled states that sued to stop it. She also declined to create a state health exchange, joining 26 other states that are ceding control to the federal government.
Her announcement supporting Medicaid expansion in her January State of the State address surprised the political establishment and kicked off a war with Republican legislative leaders and party officials.
The head of the Republican Party in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, compared Brewer to Judas in remarks to the legislature. Republican lawmakers, who helped her pass the strictest immigration law in the nation in 2010, are publicly questioning her conservative stripes.
"All of us Republicans have spent the last five years bashing Obamacare. Now some us have done 180s on it," Rep. John Kavanagh, a Republican who chairs the House appropriations committee, complained in the Capitol courtyard last week. Like other opponents, Kavanagh, who has threatened to block Medicaid expansion in his committee, cited his concern about the federal deficit and opposition to the health law.
While state lawmakers might want to stand on principle against the law, the reality is that states need the money that expansion brings -- as do hospitals and other health care providers, powerful interest groups for whom Medicaid is "lifeblood," said Julian Zelizer, a political historian at Princeton University in New Jersey.
Brewer "became a symbol for many of a tea party Republican who was not willing to be flexible, who was going to stand up for red states," Zelizer said. "This kind of position challenges that and suggests she may be more politically pragmatic than she appeared to be."
[copyright] 2013 Columbia Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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