- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A top health policy expert says states with Republican governors will be watching how Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion goes over in fellow red states that took the plunge.

About half the states deciding to expand the federal-state health program to those making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, a key — yet optional — pillar of the Affordable Care Act.

Indiana, Pennsylvania and Utah and working on waivers from the federal government to expand their programs on their own terms, which would bring to 10 the number of states with GOP governors who chose to expand, according to Drew Altman CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

In a “Think Tank” piece for the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Altman wrote that red states like Texas, Florida and Georgia, which have large uninsured populations, will be looking at these states to see if they should jump in the fray.

“Having been a state human services commissioner for a Republican governor, I know that states watch other states closely,” wrote Mr. Altman, who served in former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean’s cabinet. “Republican governors and legislators will be watching the red states that have expanded Medicaid especially closely.

Among things they’ll want to know, he wrote, is whether the states benefitted economically from new federal funding, how the expansion affected state budgets, if hospitals thrived because the federal government will pay for more of the uninsured population and if Republican politicians were hurt or not by their decision.