Will GOP states reject the Affordable Care Act in defiance of the Supreme Court ruling?
The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold or strike down the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was guaranteed to be controversial either way, but the real surprise came in the aftermath when 10 Republican governors announced that they would refuse to implement Medicaid expansion and turn down the federal funding, and 19 more are on the fence.
Florida’s governor Rick Scott led the charge, claiming that Medicaid was “growing three and a half times as fast as Florida’s general revenue” and that money was needed for education. There is little doubt that Florida education is in trouble. The year after Governor Scott cut $1.6 billion out of the budget, more than 80% of Florida’s students failed the writing portion of the FCAT – a deeply controversial mandatory test used to determine how education funds are distributed. But Governor Scott’s reasoning ignores the fact that federal money will pay all of the money for the expansion for three years, and most of it after 2016.
How will this affect Florida? Currently more that 20% of the population of the state is uninsured, about four million people. Florida also has a higher than average unemployment rate. Expanding the Medicaid program would mean an increase in high-paying jobs across the medical spectrum, which also means a lower unemployment rate and higher tax revenues. What no one has talked about yet is the number of people who retire to Florida. Without an expansion of medical workers and facilities that would come with the Medicaid money, will the state survive the influx of baby boomer retirees?
On his radio show, outspoken NJ Governor Chris Christie made no bones about his agenda. He will veto any implementation of the ACA that does not directly break the law – until after the election.
According Rick Moran of the conservative website American Thinker, the stance from GOP governors is mostly symbolic. HHS is authorized to set up an insurance exchange for any state that refuses, and people eligible for Medicaid will be able to apply for hardship waivers or their health insurance will be subsidized by taxpayers on the state level. Kate Pickert, reporting for the Times, puts it this way, “In these cases, the federal government will step in, set up an exchange, and run it. This means these Republicans leaders will have to explain that they inadvertently invited more federal control in their effort to resist Obamacare.”
We’d love to know what you think about this. Is it fiscally responsible for Republican governors to reject the ACA, or is it political sleight of hand? How will voters react?