Arizona Joining Health Care Reform Legal Fray

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," April 6, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: And another governor taking no prisoners tonight! This time, Arizona. Governor Jan Brewer just signed a bill that gives her the power to go around her attorney general and sue the federal government. Governor Brewer joins us live. Good evening, Governor.

GOV. JAN BREWER, R - ARIZ.: Good evening, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, I take it that you had to get this bill to go around your attorney general because your attorney general does not want to sue the federal government over this health care, is that right?

BREWER: Well, I just wanted to end the debate. Actually, I feel that I do have the authority. So we just ended the debate and are going to move forward.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, tell me what happened. Take me back...

BREWER: I asked the legislature to give me the authority...

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. OK. Tell me what happened. Take me back about, you know, when this legislation started, any conversations you had with the attorney general. So tell me the story.

BREWER: Well, originally, back in December of last year, I reached out to my attorney general, requesting him to look and see if he would look into the legalities of the bill that was being proposed in the -- in Congress, and he refused to look into it. So we started moving forward. And then, certainly, after it was passed by Congress, I reached out to him again to ask him to represent the state of Arizona against this very overreaching mandate by Congress, and he refused to do so.

So I was going to move forward and talk to my lawyer. I have legal counsel in my office who can represent me in any kind of litigation. And I have the authority. So then I decided to end the debate simply. I would go to the legislature and ask them to give me the authority in statute, which they did.

And now we're moving quickly forward and reviewing everything, and hopefully, we'll be making some good things happen for the people of Arizona, to stand up and protect them against this overreaching legislation that we believe is very unconstitutional.

VAN SUSTEREN: I imagine that you, like Governor Gibbons of Nevada, is not -- you're not to -- you're not particularly popular tonight with your state attorney general. Is that a fair description?


BREWER: That would -- that would probably be correct. You know, we have a working relationship, but he's been very negligent, I think, and unresponsible to the people of Arizona in regards to protecting states' rights. And so he's lost a couple of other cases that he wouldn't participate in, and we don't want to lose this one.

So certainly, we are going to. And I will go on the record tonight, Greta, with you, to inform your viewers and the people of Arizona that I will file tomorrow to join the other 16 states that have already filed suit. So it's breaking news.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now, there's -- all right. Good. Love breaking news. You know, that's -- that's our business. All right, so it seems to me there are two issues. One is the constitutional issue. And the other, which may not be part of the lawsuit, but I'm curious -- have you figured out what this health care bill means to Arizona, how much in terms of cost, the practical aspects?

BREWER: Well, you know, in regards to the mandatory insurance that everybody has to buy, it's going to be enormous. But certainly, in regards to Medicaid in the state of Arizona, it's going to cost the state of Arizona about $12 billion over the next decade. And of course, we are financially in a hole bigger than what you could even explain to most people, but -- we just simply cannot sustain what they're mandating us to continue to do under the Medicaid program part of it.

And then again, with the people out there, you know, it could be any kind of amount of money that it would be taxing the people of Arizona -- unconstitutionally, by the way.

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm sort of -- I'm curious. I mean, I know that you and Governor Gibbons aren't popular with your attorney generals. I've already said that. But I'm curious. The people of Arizona -- do you have any sort of sense of which way they're going on this, on you joining this lawsuit with the other states?

BREWER: Overwhelmingly want us to file suit and join with the other states to get to the bottom of this. The fact of the matter is, is that, probably, oh, I would say 80 percent of the hundreds and hundreds of calls and letters and e-mails that we have received said, Go to task (ph) with them. Go head to head. Go and fight this and win.

We really believe that we have really strong ground. And it's important that we join in this lawsuit and not sit aside and wait to see what happens with the other states because, therefore, if we weren't part of the lawsuit, we would not enjoy the rewards that the lower court -- the decisions that might be made at lower courts.

VAN SUSTEREN: Have you talked to any of the other governors about this?

BREWER: I have not. I have certainly been reading a lot about what's going on, but we've been very busy here in Arizona dealing with this particular issue and that with the immigration issue and our legislature that's in session.


VAN SUSTEREN: And one other thing that we're all watching, of course, is that Senate race you have going on. We're going to all be watching that, as well. Governor, thank you very much. And hope you'll come back and join us.

BREWER: Thank you, Greta.

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