Another Government Shutdown Over Health Care?

Florida Governor Threatens State Shutdown Over Medicaid Expansion

Florida Governor Threatens State Shutdown Over Medicaid Expansion

Here’s a story we’re all familiar with: a GOP Governor refuses to expand Medicaid for his own political gain, hurting the state’s economy and leaving thousands of low-income constituents in the coverage gap. But in recent days, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who has flip flopped multiple times on Medicaid expansion, has taken this mission to extreme lengths. Gov. Scott warned state agencies yesterday to prepare for a possible government shutdown because state lawmakers can’t agree on Medicaid expansion.

Why can’t they agree? Probably because Gov. Scott, beyond flip-flopping, has shown irresponsible leadership on the issue. The governor filed a lawsuit against the federal government for note extending federal funding for the Low-Income Pool (LIP), a fund that has been set to expire this year because Medicaid expansion is a smarter, more cost-effective replacement. Texas, Tennessee and Kansas, which all have large uninsured populations like Florida, also have refused to expand Medicaid, and also are about to see their LIP funding expire. Officials in Texas and Kansas have joined Gov. Scott’s political games by filing amicus briefs supporting Florida in its lawsuit.

Medicaid expansion under the ACA has always been common sense. In addition to creating jobs and supporting economic growth, Medicaid expansion greatly reduces the uninsured population, which drastically reduces the need for LIP funding. Here are just a few of the costs associated with these four states not expanding Medicaid:

  • More than 1.8 million people are uninsured because Florida, Texas, Tennessee and Kansas refuse to expand Medicaid.
  • These states have forfeited billions in economic growth. Florida alone, could have seen $8.9 billion in increased economic activity in just two years if it had expanded Medicaid in 2014.
  • Hospitals have lost more than $65 billion in reimbursements because lawmakers in these states would not expand Medicaid.

That’s just a glimpse of what the 20 states that have not expanded Medicaid are already facing. But a new report, out today, found that the situation could get even worse for these if the Supreme Court rules against the law in the upcoming case King v. Burwell. According to the report, in the 20 states that have not expanded Medicaid, 9.8 million people will go without insurance in 2016 if the court rules against the law.

Refusing federal funding to close the coverage gap isn’t the only way conservative state officials are attacking working Americans. On Wednesday, Missouri state legislators passed Right-to-Work legislation that weakens unions and inhibits workers from bargaining for better wages and benefits. The ability to advocate for fair wages and benefits along with access to affordable health care are essential to helping workers get ahead, yet conservative lawmakers continue to advance policies that make it harder for these Americans to make ends meet.

BOTTOM LINE: Following the lead of Gov. Rick Scott, conservative lawmakers across the country continue with their irresponsible attempts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, regardless of the costs. It’s time for conservative leaders to stop playing politics with the health care of millions of Americans and realize what’s at stake.

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