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Republican Governors Cannot Resist the Temptation of Obamacare
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New Jersey Governor Chris Christie became the eighth Republican governor to finally acquiesce to Obamacare. On Tuesday February 24, Christie called it “the smart thing to do for our fiscal and public health.”
Christie follows Florida Governor Rick Scott who the previous week had at long last bowed to political pressure (and common sense) and flip-flopped on his prior stance. Governor Scott had been one of the more harsh critics of Obamacare, even to the point of suing the federal government and taking Obamacare all the way to the Supreme Court, along with 25 other GOP governors.
Though Scott has known all along the details of the new program, he now seems to grasp the merits. "I cannot, in good conscience, deny the uninsured access to care.” - Governor Scott explained.
Scott and Christie are just the seventh and eighth such Republican governors to perform this act of political gymnastics - joining Governors Snyder (MI), Brewer (AZ), Martinez (NM), Dalrymple (ND), Sandoval (NV), and Kasich (OH). Scott Walker of Wisconsin is also taking steps, though it is not clear how much Obamacare/ACA will be involved.
Governor Scott's flip-flop represents a sea-change of sorts. Scott is the former head of the largest for-profit health care system in the country (Columbia/HCA). He was reportedly forced to resign under pressure from the board, while at the center of a nationwide federal health fraud investigation. With that experience, and that as governor - he is certainly familiar with the inner workings of both the health-care system, and the budgetary concerns of states.
His acceptance of ACA/Obamacare - should the state legislature send it to his desk - should serve as notice to other conservative governors that they would be wise to get in line for that Medicare money. Otherwise, they will have to answer to those hospitals.
The Medicare program was put into effect in 1966. The deal is that hospitals get 50% matching Medicare funds - if they care for the uninsured who show up at the ER. All 50 states gladly participate.
Obamacare on the other hand, will match 100% to expand Medicaid in the first few years, 95% for a few more years, and then 90% in perpetuity. That is the law. Ninety-percent guaranteed - for good.
To think that states would turn down 100% - or even 90% - is laughable at best.
The way SCOTUS ruled, while states have the option of whether to take advantage of Obamacare - they have no choice but to pay for the care of citizens in the participating states.
Bruce Rueben, president of the Florida Hospital Association, said, “If we’re going to walk away from that coverage, we’ll simply see those dollars we contributed through cuts in hospital payments go to covering people in other states. It’s a bad deal for people in Florida if it plays out that way.”
If conservative governors think that they will be able to force those billions in added costs onto public hospitals, and thereby forcing them into bankruptcy - they will surely have another thing coming to them.
States will be paying for the program, and hospitals will be providing services - the matter at hand is whether they will accept the attractiveness of Obamacare on it merits rather than its surname.
Opponents of Obamacare claim that if the federal match goes below 90% - then the program would become unaffordable and would explode state budgets and burden the citizens.
But whom exactly would want to cut Obamacare?
The 112th Congress voted 33 times to repeal Obamacare, and Ryan Budget 3.0 also calls for the repeal of Obamacare (only the benefits though, not the taxes).
If the law that guarantees 90% were somehow changed in the future to decrease the federal match - it surely wouldn't be because democrats cut their own program.