- Chinese Death Star: The moon cited as the perfect launch pad for ballistic missiles
- Help wanted: Homeland Security plagued by vacancies at the top
- We are not amused: Queen’s protection officers warned to keep ‘sticky fingers’ off the royal cashews
- Unleash the crossbows: Gov. Scott Walker creates new hunting season
- Bubonic plague kills 20 in Madagascar
- G-20 diplomats fell for hacker attack promising nude photos of former French first lady Carla Bruni
- Minnesota guardsman charged with stealing private soldier data for fake IDs
- Florida appeals court rules universities can’t regulate guns
- Vladimir Putin defends Russian conservative values
- Tea Party Patriots call key GOP firing a declaration of war
GOP divided over Obama’s Medicaid money offer
Republican-led states grapple with whether to expand access
Question of the Day
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer shocked many observers this month by opting to expand the Medicaid program in her state as part of President Obama’s health care law, saying it was a good economic deal, even as her Republican counterparts in states like Georgia flatly rejected the option.
Seven months after the Supreme Court gave the green light to states to decide whether to greatly expand the federal-state health program for the poor, many Republican-led states are still grappling with whether to do it.
Under Mr. Obama’s law, federal dollars would pay 100 percent of the expansion’s cost for three years, starting in 2014, before scaling back Washington’s contribution to 90 percent by 2020.
Some state officials, such as Ms. Brewer in Arizona, say they’ve crunched the numbers and have concluded that a minimal state investment can earn tremendous returns from federal coffers. But others, including GeorgiaGov. Nathan Deal, said the numbers don’t look so good for them, and that judging by past performance, they don’t trust the federal government to meet its commitments anyway.
“If you think your taxes went up a lot this month, just wait till we have to pay for ‘free health care,’” Mr. Deal told state lawmakers earlier this month. “‘Free’ never cost so much.”
The Medicaid question is proving to be a deeper quandary for conservative-minded states than the other major decision related to Mr. Obama’s reforms —whether or not to set up a virtual marketplace, or “exchange,” for residents to shop for health insurance plans.
If states decline to set up exchanges, the law calls for the federal government to come in and run them. Many Republican-led states had chosen the federal option, arguing they don’t want to be on the hook for bad decisions.
But in considering the Medicaid question, GOP leaders must weigh their constituents’ needs against their bedrock principles of limited spending and self-reliance without federal intrusion.
“Those who do not accept the Medicaid expansion will have to give up the very attractive subsidies and leave many of their poorest uninsured,” said I. Glenn Cohen, a health care expert at Harvard Law School.
In Arizona, Ms. Brewer said that the injection of federal dollars could boost the local economy, and she said Arizona would scale back its enrollment if the federal match dropped below 80 percent in future years.
“Ultimately, the decision came down to the math,” said Ms. Brewer’s spokesman, Matthew Benson, who noted that if Arizona doesn’t sign up, other states will get its money. “Our taxpayers are paying the freight for this program, so we might as well get some of the benefit.”
Unlike Ms. Brewer, some GOP governors say the price tag for “Obamacare” is simply too steep. Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant called on his state to lower its Medicaid population through economic growth instead of “assuming enormous costs we cannot afford.”
But Mr. Cohen, at Harvard Law, said it seems unlikely that individual members of Congress would vote to “shaft” their own states by withdrawing federal Medicaid funds down the road, especially since Democrats on Capitol Hill would be unlikely initiate such a move.
“That means that Republican governors essentially think that their Republican federal representatives and senators are going to pull the rug out from under them, and that is why they don’t want to adopt the expansion,” he said. “That seems implausible to me.”
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Tom Howell Jr. covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- White House improvises again on patchy Obamacare rollout
- Key Obamacare official: Last two months much harder than anyone hoped
- HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius calls for review of Obamacare rollout woes
- More than a quarter million sign up for Obamacare in November
- Harry Reid, David Vitter spar over Obamacare 'exemptions'
Latest Blog Entries
- Calif.: Give 'gift of health' by pledging cash for the uninsured
- Tensions hit boiling point over Obamacare enrollment figures, error rates
- Young, uninsured adults vital to Obamacare are not keen on enrolling: New Harvard poll
- Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox will promote Obamacare at Mall of America
- HealthCare.gov employs a new look once again
By Matt Kibbe
The short-term deal will assure long-term overspending
- Obama's Afghanistan experts stumped on U.S. death toll, war costs during hearing
- Comma on!: Twitter erupts over Obama-Castro 'marriage'
- NAPOLITANO: A conspiracy so vast
- All-out war breaks out in GOP over budget pact
- Biden guarantees victory on immigration reform
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- Jane Fonda Foundation fails to make single contribution in 5 years: report
- White House improvises again on patchy Obamacare rollout
- MALCOLM/REIMER: Over-criminalization undermines respect for legal system
- GOP Rep. Tim Murphy rolls out mental health legislation
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Columns from Voices around the World talking about the events, people, politics and social issues that concern us wherever, and whoever, we are.
Chef Mary Moran discusses the food we eat, where it comes from and what it does for us.
An informed and often humorous take on the world of advertising, public relations and social media. 100% Pure. Not from concentrate.
Does it take over 25 years in public service to really know what goes on in Washington?
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow