Florida Gov. Rick Scott reverses stance on Medicaid. Win for White House? (+video)
An early 'Obamacare' foe, Republican Gov. Rick Scott announced his support for expanding Florida's Medicaid program. The move pits him against conservative governors with different plans.
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“Might as well let Florida roll that rock up the hill and take advantage of Governor Scott’s terrible mistake,” Erickson wrote.Skip to next paragraph
Peter Grier is The Christian Science Monitor's Washington editor. In this capacity, he helps direct coverage for the paper on most news events in the nation's capital.
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Medicaid is a giant state/federal entitlement program which has long covered medical costs for the lowest income Americans. Under terms of Obama’s health-care law, states that raise eligible incomes to 138 percent of the poverty line and allow many more participants in the program will have their additional costs picked up by Washington for three years. After that the federal government has said their subsidy will cover 90 percent of state costs.
Currently, Washington pays only half the cost of Medicaid programs, so the expansion is a fiscal good deal for states, particularly those such as Florida, which have a high percentage of uninsured residents. Conservatives see the expansion as creeping federal control, however, and point out that in an era of curtailed government spending Washington’s proffered subsidies could easily disappear.
Scott’s decision only adds to the perception that Republican governors are split into two camps over dealing with the ACA’s provisions, Politico pointed out Thursday. On one side are pragmatists such as New Jersey’s Chris Christie, Ohio’s John Kasich, and New Mexico’s Susana Martinez. All represent states won by Obama in 2012, and all have agreed to Medicaid expansion.
“It’s an intra-party struggle that mirrors the same fight that’s engulfed the Republican Party since Election day, pitting anti-Obama hardliners against those concerned with appealing to a broader swath of voters,” wrote Politico’s David Nather and Jason Millman.
For the anti-expansion holdouts one problem is that rejecting Washington’s Medicaid subsides does not lower their residents’ federal taxes. So Texans, Louisianans, and South Carolinians will help foot the bill for Florida’s new Medicaid beneficiaries without getting any US largesse in return.
“Perhaps all states declining to expand would be better than no states declining to expand, but if some states expand and others don’t you clearly want to be among the expanders,” he wrote.