Democrats running in five highly competitive governors races this year have vowed to expand Medicaid coverage through ObamaCare if they are elected, something that could result in 1.7 million new people getting covered.
The dramatic stakes in the governors’ races come even as Democrats are fearful they could lose the Senate, leaving President Obama playing defense over the final two years of his presidency against a Republican Congress.
If federal Medicaid programs are expanded in the five states — Florida, Maine, Kansas, Wisconsin and Georgia — it would also have a dramatic effect on the federal budget. It could result in $120 billion in new federal funds spent on the coverage over the next decade, according to a recent report by the Urban Institute
The positions of the two political parties flip when it comes to the race to control state houses.
Republicans are favored to gain seats in the House and Senate, but the party is playing defense in the race for state houses.
Most congressional Democrats are retreating from ObamaCare on the campaign trail. The law remains a tough political litmus test at a time when the president’s approval rating has sunk to record lows.
But Democrats in some of the closest gubernatorial contests are running on a platform to expand a key piece of the law.
Medicaid expansion is a core issue in Florida, where the state’s one-time Republican governor, Charlie Crist, is now running as a Democrat and embracing Obama as part of his campaign.