Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) has reportedly proposed levying a $50 annual fee on smokers, the chronically ill or obese who receive aid from the state’s financially strapped Medicaid program. Effective October 1, 2011, if approved by the Arizona Legislature, the plan would apply to childless adults who “need to work with their primary care physician to develop a care plan.”

According to news sources, the measure is part of a wider plan to help the state save $510 million. “If you want to smoke, go for it,” a spokesperson for Arizona’s Medicaid program was quoted as saying. “But understand you’re going to have to contribute something for the cost of the care of your smoking.”

State Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) asserted that she would vote against the measure because it would unfairly penalize the obese. “If someone is obese because they’re severely disabled or can’t exercise, we shouldn’t be punishing them,” she said. “I mean, it’s not their fault.” See CNNMoney, The Wall Street Journal, April 1, 2011.