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Republican Governors' Failure to Expand Medicaid Leaves Hundreds of Thousand of Vets Uninsured

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According to an appalling new study, Republican governors who have chosen not to expand Medicaid are leaving hundreds of thousands of poor veterans without health insurance. These governors — like Rick Scott, Paul LePage, and Tom Corbett – have decided that right-wing ideology and base Republican politics are more important than caring for the men and women who have served our country in uniform. It’s just wrong.
Their callous disregard for these people is grotesque. Paul LePage called expanding health coverage “sinful,” Rick Perry said it would be like “adding a thousand people to the Titanic,” and Nikki Haley said she “will not expand Medicaid ever.”  Seriously. These governors have failed at their most fundamental responsibility – protecting their citizens, and particularly our veterans.
Here’s the background on Republican governors refusal to expand Medicaid:
Study: States Refusing Medicaid Expansion Would Benefit Most. There are more than 15 million uninsured or underinsured people living below the poverty line in the 23 states that have refused to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare, according to a new study by The Commonwealth Fund. Many of these states have among the highest rates of uninsured or underinsured people in the country, the study found.” [The Hill, 3/25/14]
Vox: “States That Refuse Medicaid Are Leaving Over 250,000 Poor Veterans Uninsured”. “According to a report by Pew using analysis from the Urban Institute, approximately 258,600 of those veterans are living below the poverty line in states refusing to expand Medicaid. Without veteran’s benefits — and with incomes too low to qualify for subsidies to use on the state exchanges — these veterans are left without affordable coverage options.” [Vox, 5/21/14]
FL Gov. Rick Scott Has Remained “Distant” From Medicaid Expansion, As State’s Rejection Has Resulted In Loss Of $5 Billion In Federal Funding. “Scott, who initially opposed the expansion, has remained relatively distant from the issue since he announced his support for the reform in February 2013… The Florida legislature’s rejection of Medicaid expansion has resulted in a loss of $5 billion in federal funding to insure more than 1 million low-income Floridians.” [Huffington Post, 4/3/14]
GA Gov. Nathan Deal Refused Medicaid Expansion That Would Have Covered Estimated 650,000 Georgians. “Gov. Nathan Deal said Tuesday that he will not expand the Medicaid program under the federal Affordable Care Act — which would have provided an estimated 650,000 low-income Georgians with health coverage — because it would be too expensive.” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 8/28/12]
KS Gov. Sam Brownback Signed Bill Giving Medicaid Expansion Authority To Legislature. “Medicaid won’t expand in Kansas anytime soon. HB 2552, which requires an act of the Legislature to expand Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act, has been signed by Gov. Sam Brownback, his office announced Friday… Expanding Medicaid would give coverage to about 78,000 uninsured Kansans… The signing of the bill essentially means that if a Democrat were elected governor this fall, Medicaid expansion won’t be a sure thing.” [Wichita Eagle, 4/18/14]
Times-Picayune: LA Gov. Bobby Jindal “Holding Firm On Rejection Of Medicaid Expansion Despite Other Governors’ Change Of Heart”. Gov. Bobby Jindal is holding firm on his rejection of a federal Medicaid expansion, even as other Republican governors across the country are doing an about-face and accepting the new program. Jindal and state Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein both came out strongly against the expansion Wednesday, a day after a group of 44 nonprofit groups petitioned the state to accept the broader version of the program… About 20 percent of Louisiana residents currently lack medical insurance, and the expansion, which would cover about 400,000 people in the state, would cut that percentage in half, according to the petition. The program would also bring an extra $15.7 billion into the state during the next decade, an infusion that would spur economic growth, the petition argues.” [Times-Picayune, 2/6/13]
ME Gov. Paul LePage: Expanding Medicaid would Be “Sinful”. “Gov. Paul LePage on Friday called a proposed expansion of Medicaid ‘sinful’ during an appearance in Kennebunk, his starkest condemnation of the plan yet… At stake is access to health care for more than 60,000 to 70,000 low-income Mainers that would largely be funded by the federal government as part of the Affordable Care Act.” [Portland Press Herald, 5/21/14]
WTVD: “Research Contradicts McCrory On Medicaid Expansion”. “After taking office, Governor Pat McCrory made the convincing argument that North Carolina’s Medicaid system was broken – citing at least $200 million in unexpected spending and an audit that showed the system was burdened with high administrative costs. But in testimony before an oversight committee Tuesday, the North Carolina General Assembly Fiscal Research Division presented research that shows the state’s Medicaid administrative costs are actually lower than many states… Governor McCrory used the audit as part of his justification for not to expanding Medicaid coverage in North Carolina – as called for under the federal Affordable Care Act – also known as Obamacare.” [WTVD ABC 11, 11/20/13]
500 to 600 Thousand Pennsylvanians Fell Into Health Care Hole Due to Uncertainty Over Medicaid Expansion. Questions continue to pour in about the Affordable Care Act this week, including why many Pennsylvanians are being denied coverage altogether. It comes down to expanding Medicaid, which Governor Tom Corbett chose not to do. Representative Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny) said between 500,000 and 600,000 working Pennsylvanians are now being left in a healthcare hole. ‘It’s absolutely unconscionable that we’re not taking advantage of this,’ he said. Frankel is talking about $3 billion in federal dollars that would have poured into the state to fully fund medicaid for the next three years. After that, the federal government would pick up 90 percent of the tab. But over the summer, Corbett turned down the offer. [WHTM, 10/24/13]
SC Gov. Nikki Haley: “We Will Not Expand Medicaid Ever.” “As more Republicans give in to President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul, an opposition block remains across the South, including from governors who lead some of the nation’s poorest and unhealthiest states. ‘Not in South Carolina,’ Gov. Nikki Haley declared at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference. ‘We will not expand Medicaid on President Obama’s watch. We will not expand Medicaid ever.'” [Associated Press, 3/30/13]
TX Gov. Rick Perry: Expanding Medicaid Like “Adding A Thousand People To The Titanic”. “‘The bottom line here is that Medicaid is a failed program,’ Perry said in an appearance on Fox News. ‘To expand this program is not unlike adding a thousand people to the Titanic.’ Perry’s decision means as many as 1.3 million people who could have gained coverage under the Medicaid expansion won’t get it, according to figures from the Urban Institute. That’s more than any other state that has given a definite ‘no’ to the Medicaid expansion, including Florida.” [Politico, 7/19/12]
PolitiFact: WI Gov. Scott Walker’s Rationale For Refusing Medicaid Expansion Money “False.” “Explaining his rejection of federal money to fully expand Medicaid coverage, Walker said on Fox News Sunday that ‘federal government reneging’ on Medicaid payments to Wisconsin caused more than $200 million in extra costs in the 2013-’15 state budget. But typical cost-sharing fluctuations, based mainly on a longstanding formula, explain the extra state burden — not any reversal of course or pulling back on a commitment by Washington. We rate Walker’s claim False.” [PolitiFact Wisconsin, 2/28/14]