But what a difference…
Utah’s Republican Governor, Gary Herbert, says that Utah will expand Medicaid to cover more of the state’s uninsured.
“Doing nothing…I’ve taken off the table. Doing nothing is not an option,” the Republican governor said at his monthly news conference, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
While Herbert has not indicated which of two Medicaid expansion strategies endorsed by a legislative Health Reform Task Force he prefers — or whether he has another in mind, the Tribune writes:
…Democrats and low-income advocates were encouraged by Herbert’s comments, his first public commitment to embrace an optional, but key, component of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
“Every month that Utah waits to start a program, we lose over four million dollars in federal funding, thousands of families struggle accessing and paying for care, and continue to face the physical, mental and financial harm that occurs when families are uninsured,” said Lincoln Nehring, a health policy analyst at Voices for Utah Children, in a statement.
Saluting Herbert’s decision, state Democratic party chairman Jim Dabakis said, “We trust that this is not a conditional acceptance, and that the Utah Legislature will see the wisdom in joining so many other states in providing a hand up to [those] desperate for affordable health care.”
The full Medicaid expansion anticipated by the ACA would cover 111,000 Utah adults who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or $32,000 for a family of four.
The federal government pays 100 percent of those costs through 2017, and then declining amounts, but no less than 90 percent.
Then there is that other Republican governor who refuses to expand Medicaid, consequently denying 1,046,430 Texas residents health care coverage, according to MoveOn.org which adds:
Governor Perry’s been sitting on his hands, unable or unwilling to reach an agreement with the Obama administration.*
It’s hard to fathom why he is doing this—except out of spite—since expanding Medicaid would be a huge bargain for Texas (100% of the costs would be borne by the federal government through 2016, and 90% thereafter), and 1,046,430 residents would benefit, according to an estimate from the Kaiser Family Foundation.**
MoveOn.org points out that last year, eight Republican governors succumbed to political pressure and accepted the funds*** and
Recent polls have repeatedly shown that a majority of voters nationwide—not just voters in Texas but also voters throughout the Deep South—want Medicaid to be expanded. If you have any doubt that support for expansion is widespread, you only have to look at polling for Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina—where support reaches 60%.****
* “Obamacare, Medicaid expansion, politics and Texas,” Katy Times, January 6, 2014
** “MAP: The 5 Million People The GOP Cut Out Of Obamacare,” Talking Points Memo, November 8, 2013
*** “Some GOP Governors Embrace Medicaid Expansion,” The Wall Street Journal, November 21, 2013
**** “POLL: Americans In The Deep South Strongly Support Medicaid Expansion, Despite Governors’ Opposition,” ThinkProgress, May 22, 2013
Image: from www.shutterstock.com
The author is a retired U.S. Air Force officer and a writer.