You would think the GOP would put a on full court press against both Obamacare and Medicaid. But that’s simply not how it’s playing out in real time. If the clock never runs out then how can there be a loser? Cato expert Michael Tanner points out:
Even as those parts of Obamacare that have not yet been postponed stagger toward the finish line on March 31, one part of the president’s health-care law continues to build momentum. As of this writing, 25 states and the District of Columbia have chosen to expand their Medicaid programs in accordance with Obamacare. This includes several states governed by Republicans, including Arizona, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Ohio (Governor John Kasich has described the expansion as part of his duty as a Christian).
The Obama administration claims that nearly 7 million Americans have been added to the Medicaid rolls as a result of the Affordable Care Act, but those numbers are wildly inflated.
The Washington Post’s fact checker has given the claim “four Pinocchios,” and firms that track the data, such as Avalere, suggest that the real number is somewhere between 1.1 and 1.8 million at last count. The rest of the enrollments are simply the normal turnover and reenrollments that occur in the program.
“Now isn’t the time for Republican governors to go wobbly on these fraudulent arguments.”
Yet the expansion could get a lot bigger over the next few months if several additional states decide to expand their programs. Among those expected to make a decision in the next few weeks: New Hampshire, where the Republican-controlled senate voted to pass a version of expansion earlier this month; Pennsylvania, where Republican governor Tom Corbett has proposed expanding the program in exchange for some overall Medicaid reforms, including a work requirement; staff for Utah governor Gary Herbert traveled to D.C. last week to discuss proposals for Medicaid expansion, with their boss expected to make the trip himself in April; and Virginia, where new governor Terry McAuliffe is pushing for expansion, though the Republican-controlled house has blocked him. Other states looking at the idea include Florida, Missouri, and Montana; expansion is also expected to be a key issue in gubernatorial campaigns this fall.
Supporters of expanding the program, along with much of the media, portray opposition to the idea as essentially political. It’s about governors and state legislators who simply oppose Obamacare and refuse to do anything that would help implement it, they contend. No doubt there’s a certain amount of truth to this claim.
But expanding Medicaid also raises serious policy concerns: It would increase government dependency, cost state taxpayers millions if not billions of dollars in new taxes, squeeze other state services, and do little to improve health care for the poor.