Although the Supreme Court upheld ‘Obamacare’, the ruling complicates an important element of the law by making the Medicaid expansion optional for states. States will no longer risk losing all their Medicaid funds if they opt out of the expansion, which is projected to cover some 17 million low-income people.
Most states will be hard-pressed to turn down the infusion of federal funds to help cover their uninsured residents, despite incurring new costs down the road. But Republican governors face a genuine political predicament because if they accept the Medicaid expansion, they open themselves up to potentially resonant right-wing attacks for buttressing ‘Obamacare.’
While some GOP-led states are hedging, others vow to reject the funds.
“We’re opposed to it and we’re not going to have any part of it,” Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) told the Huffington Post. “But we’re taking our own approach. … But we’re certainly not going to buy into this federal effort. We’re going to fight it in every way we can.”
“Florida will opt out of spending approximately $1.9 billion more taxpayer dollars required to implement a massive entitlement expansion of the Medicaid program,” the office of Gov. Rick Scott (R) said in a statement.
“We’re not going to shove more South Carolinians into a broken system that further ties our hands when we know the best way to find South Carolina solutions for South Carolina health problems is through the flexibility that block grants provide,” Rob Godfrey, a spokesperson for Gov. Nikki Haley, told the Post and Courier.
“I just don’t see any way we will be expanding Medicaid at the expense of things like education and public safety,” state House Budget Committee Chairman Ryan Silvey (R) told a local paper.
The state’s Democratic governor has been mum, but Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder (R) called the Medicaid expansion a “break-the-bank” scenario and sided with Silvey. “Our position in the General Assembly and, speaking for me, personally, is clear,” he said.
“Wisconsin will not take any action to implement Obamacare,” said Gov. Scott Walker (R), signaling that he wants to wait until the November elections, which will in large part determine the future of the law.
“We’re not going to start implementing Obamacare,” said Gov. Bobby Jindal (R).
“Every governor’s got two critical decisions to make. One is do we set up these exchanges. And, secondly, do we expand Medicaid. And, no, in Louisiana, we’re not doing either one of those things,” Jindal said on NBC’s “Meet The Press” Sunday. “I don’t think it makes sense to do those. I think it makes more sense to do everything we can to elect Mitt Romney to repeal Obamacare.”
Officials in Gov. Sam Brownback’s (R) administration told the Kansas Health Institute that they want nothing to do with ‘Obamacare’ and “will take no action to implement it.”
Sahil Kapur is a congressional reporter for TPM. He previously covered politics and public policy for numerous publications including The Guardian and The Huffington Post. He can be reached at sahil [at] talkingpointsmemo.com.