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Brewer calls for special session for waiver request

Gov. Jan Brewer, seen here at her recent inauguration, focused on the shooting that shook the nation over the weekend. Brewer signed SB1101 Tuesday evening, limiting protests at the upcoming funerals for the shooting victims. (Photo by Evan Wyloge/Arizona Capitol Times)

Gov. Jan Brewer, seen here at her recent inauguration, plans to call a special session to address reductions in state-run medical coverage eligibility. (Photo by Evan Wyloge/Arizona Capitol Times)

Lawmakers will convene into a special session today to consider the governor’s proposal to ask the federal government to allow Arizona to reduce medical coverage for its residents.

Gov. Jan Brewer issued the call last night. Brewer asked lawmakers to meet at 1:45 p.m. today.

The Legislature is likely to approve Brewer’s request. Normally, the governor would call for a special session only after both the Governor’s Office and the Legislature have agreed to pass what’s on the agenda and the votes have already been lined up.

Without the waiver, Brewer’s plan to cut $542 million from the state’s Medicaid program would be a violation of the federal health care law.

In a closed-door meeting Tuesday afternoon, Senate Republicans discussed the possibility of a special session.

Brewer’s budget plan would cut about 280,000 patients from the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, which serves 1.3 million people. If the federal government denies the waiver request, she does not have a contingency plan for bridging the state’s budget deficit.

On Tuesday, one Republican legislator said the Senate probably has enough votes to approve the governor’s request for the authority to seek a federal waiver.

Also yesterday, the House sent out its agenda for Wednesday, which shows that the Appropriations Committee will meet to discuss the waiver request.

Paul Senseman, the governor’s spokesperson, said Brewer has been discussing with legislative leaders the “timing and format of rapidly receiving legislative approval of the Medicaid waiver request.”

“Since the federal government has a typical timeline of up to six months for waiver reviews,” Senseman said, “moving with alacrity on this subject is important.”

Jim Small contributed to this story

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