The Party Of No Hates Obamacare So Much That They Make Their Point By Rejecting Medicaid Expansion

Expanding Medicaid Gets More Politicized In Run-Up To 2014 Elections

Red states like South Carolina are facing a political dilemma over expanding Medicaid. Some see it as cold and heartless, and are getting that message out.

In South Carolina, expanding Medicaid is bad because it’s Obamacare. The Democratic candidate for governor, Vincent Sheheen, supports expanding Medicaid. Governor Nikki Haley, however, won’t go for it. Expanding Medicaid would bring $2 billion in federal money into the state, but, well, it’s Obamacare! So it’s bad, according to a new political ad.

GOP governors’ opinions on expanding Medicaid differ.

This is not an issue where state governors are sticking together. In fact, Arizona, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Ohio, all have Republican governors. All are expanding Medicaid.

Utah’s governor said recently that opting out of the expansion was not a choice, because the plan will help cover Utah’s low-income residents. However, Utah’s house speaker said that she would reject any plan that relied on additional federal funding.

And that’s the problem for many red states. Some see the federal funds that come with expanding Medicaid as extremely good for their states. Arizona’s governor, Jan Brewer, has fought the Affordable Care Act (ACA) tooth and nail. However, she also thinks that the idea of rejecting additional federal funds for her state, just to make a point, is not in the best interests of Arizona’s citizens. So Brewer went for the expansion.

Of course, this didn’t stop some of Arizona’s Republican lawmakers from suing her. Expanding Medicaid is, to them, akin to plunking a new tax on the people. Under Arizona law, that requires a supermajority in the state legislature to approve it. Judge Katherine Cooper dismissed the case, though the plaintiffs do plan to appeal.

South Carolina is facing a large jump in enrollment anyway.

One of the issues facing South Carolina is that, even without expansion, they could see a 16% jump in enrollment by mid-2015. That’s higher than the 12% increase seen in states that are expanding Medicaid. The state has made up an online enrollment site and added 20 positions to its Medicaid call center. They’re actively trying to get more people to enroll. Without the federal funds, though, they could face an uphill battle when it comes to paying for this.

South Carolina is one of the sickest states in the country, but can’t stomach more federal funds.

South Carolina thinks taking federal money means giving the federal government “the okay” to keep spending money they don’t have. South Carolina is a poor state. They have a lot of hospitals serving patients who can’t pay. Also, South Carolina is one of the sickest states in the country. Their top health official, Tony Keck, says that’s due to poverty. But he believes they should spend their money on putting people back to work so they can get insurance there.

However, that doesn’t help people who don’t qualify for Medicaid, but can’t afford insurance premiums.

People in South Carolina that fall into the gap between qualifying for Medicaid and being able to afford even the cheapest plans through the ACA will remain uninsured. Expanding Medicaid could bring coverage to several hundred thousand people. But the state would deny them the help they need just to make their point that Obamacare is bad.

Watch the ad here: