States That Are Expanding Medicaid Face Strong Tea Party Opposition

Expanding Medicaid

The Tea Party moves its fight against the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to the states. Expanding Medicaid is one of the issues they’re targeting now. – Adam Zyglis, The Buffalo News

The Tea Party is moving its fight against the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to the states. The move comes after the Tea Party’s efforts to get rid of it at the federal level were defeated.

In Virginia, the Tea Party is going after state senator Emmett W. Hanger, Jr. (District 24, R), because he’s open to expanding Medicaid under the ACA. The Koch-backed group Americans for Prosperity has been knocking on doors, making phone calls, and generally trying to rile up Hanger’s constituents over the issue.

Lawmakers in other states are Tea Party targets too.

He’s not alone. Americans for Prosperity has been running similar campaigns in several other states, including Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, Ohio, Louisiana and Florida. They’re after anybody who favors expanding Medicaid. In Arizona, the Tea Party Patriots spent $20,000 to get the issue on their ballot.

So far, 22 states have rejected the expansion, and 11 more haven’t decided yet. That leaves 17 states that are expanding Medicaid. Most of those states are blue, while most of the states that have said “no” are red. The issue is big in Virginia because of the heated governor’s race. Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe favors the expansion, and GOP rival Ken Cuccinelli does not. McAuliffe is currently ahead in the polls.

Some GOP governors support expanding Medicaid anyway.

Sadly for the Tea Party, several other GOP governors support expanding Medicaid in their states. Jan Brewer of Arizona, Rick Snyder of Michigan, and John Kasich of Ohio, have been pressuring their state legislatures on the issue. Pennsylvania’s legislature rejected it, despite their Republican governor supporting it.

Expanding Medicaid means millions of dollars flowing into the states that will help with their programs. The federal government will provide 100% of the cost of expansion for 3 years, and then 90% afterward. Some think that it’s in these states’ interests to go for the expansion, even if they oppose the ACA.

The Tea Party has threatened difficult primary races for any incumbent they decide isn’t “conservative enough.” Red states that decide expanding Medicaid is a good deal will likely face strong Tea Party opposition. For John. C. Watkins, another Virginia state senator, opposition means sending his constituents misleading information. The New York Times quoted Watkins as saying, “They related Medicaid expansion to defeating Obamacare, and they ignore the fact that the Affordable Care Act is the law. I think their tactics are very deceptive.”

The Tea Party still cannot see reality.

Oddly enough, the Tea Party’s inability to see reality is still going full tilt. According to an article in The Atlantic Wire, they think that everyone will come around to their way of thinking if they can only speak the “truth” loud enough. But they’ve lost the support of business groups and other people. During the shutdown, polls found that 38% of people supported the ACA, which was up 7 points from before the shutdown. During the same time, President Obama’s ratings also went up, while ratings for the GOP crashed. Only 21%-30% of people approve of the Tea Party, depending on which poll you look at. The GOP’s rating is down to 24%.

If the Tea Party continues to fight against expanding Medicaid, they may run into significant problems with Republican governors who support that part of the ACA. They may think it’s an easy fight, but the reality of the situation says differently.