GOP Legislators Thwart Bids to Expand Medicaid

Governors across the political spectrum are hitting a roadblock in their bids to expand Medicaid with federal funds: Republican legislators who adamantly oppose “Obamacare.”

While some of these governors themselves have criticized the president’s health care law in general, they’ve come to see one component — Medicaid expansion — as too generous to reject. But they’re battling conservative lawmakers who say it’s better to turn down billions of federal dollars than to expand Medicaid under the 2010 law.

Partisan politics have driven states’ Medicaid decisions ever since the Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that expansion was optional, not mandatory, under the new law. Within months, every Democratic governor agreed to expand Medicaid (although Republican legislatures blocked a few of those efforts).

Only nine states with Republican governors accepted the offer.

Medicaid, the health insurance program for low-income and disabled people, covers about 65 million Americans, more than one in five. The federal government will pay the full expansion cost for the first three years, and gradually reduce the subsidy to 90 percent. That’s more than the traditional Medicaid federal match to states.