Today’s choice for Republican governors is not an easy one. Either expand their state’s Medicaid program and be in receipt of federal funds to do it with, or, they can stay their present course. By choosing the latter, their constituency will pay millions of dollars for emergency health care that the poor cannot afford on their own. But, they must act now.
Some believe the governors will choose Medicaid expansion. Among those believers are Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Sebelius said that “It not only would bring more people into the health care system, but it would dramatically reduce unpaid medical costs.”
Secretary Sebelius continued with a telling statement of just how much money the states can save. Already in 2012, “6.3 million people have saved more than $6.1 billion on prescription drugs. For the first time in 50 years, Medicare costs are going down. Hospital readmission rates have gone down. And state officials have stopped double-digit health insurance premium increases.”
Since its inception, but really beginning in 2012, there has been a strong push by Republican governors to undermine the Affordable Care Act. When expansion of Medicaid was announced, they immediately saw it as a way to stop Affordable Care Act in its tracks. The Miami Herald reported, “The states considering whether to withdraw from the expansion include presidential battlegrounds Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Colorado.”
Even though the Fed would pay the full amount of money it would take to expand Medicaid in their states, voices coming from poverty stricken states like Mississippi and Missouri began to be heard. State Rep. Todd Richardson (R-MO) said “One thing is clear, state legislatures will play a big role in the future of Obamacare.”
Republican Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said, “Mississippi taxpayers simply cannot afford that cost, so our state is not inclined to dramatically expand Medicaid.” Most people would say that sounds a little bit like anger.
So, who was going to be the governor to break the proverbial ice and get things moving? Who would be first to satisfy their legislative greed and take the money? It turned out that Governor Kasich of Ohio, became the leading force the Affordable Care Act needed to get things moving.
The Huffington Post reported that “Kasich is one of 10 Republican governors who have broken with their party to support the Medicaid expansion, although they all maintain they continue to oppose the underlying Obamacare law.”
What does it matter what the reason was these governors gave for expanding Medicaid in their states. It is done and now no one must go to the emergency room for their health care in those red states anymore. The only thing that matters is the GOP has been hood-winked into doing what is best for their constituency. We all know, politics aside, that it is for the good of the many and to the detriment of no one but the rich.
Richard Andrew is a guest blogger for Ring of Fire.