/ Modified sep 11, 2013 4:44 p.m.

Effort to Defeat Medicaid Expansion Fails

Committee falls 5,000 signatures short of minimum needed for issue to go on next year's ballot.

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The committee hoping to stop Arizona officials from expanding the state’s Medicaid patient rolls has fallen short of the signatures needed to get the question on the ballot next year.

The United Republican Alliance of Principled Conservatives said Wednesday it had gathered 81,349 signatures. It needed 86,405.

The expansion is part of the federally funded Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare. It will add an estimated 300,000 poor Arizonans to the state's health-care program, known as the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System.

Because the committee didn't meet the signature threshold, the expansion will proceed, but the committee will try other ways to reduce or repeal the act, said committee chairwoman Christine Bauserman.

"We’re going to regroup, and we’re going to keep fighting for the Republican principles" she said. "It is part of the national Republican committee’s plan to repeal Obamacare, and we expect if you’re a Republican to follow the plan."

Part of the reason the committee didn't gather enough signatures, Bauserman said, is that another campaign was set up to confuse voters. As the committee circulated petitions, a similar but unofficial petition was circulated asking voters to support Medicaid expansion, she said.

That meant people who thought they had signed the effort to reverse the expansion may have signed the wrong document, she said.

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