Hard To Resist

In the latest case of conservatives downplaying their opposition to Obamacare, more GOP-led states are moving to embrace Medicaid expansion.

More GOP-Led States Are Moving To Expand Medicaid

A successful first open enrollment period with 8 million enrollees. The uninsured rate at a record low 13.4 percent. Insurers clamoring to join state exchanges for next year. Health insurance premiums for 2015 beating expectations. The successes of the Affordable Care Act are clear.

Supporters of the law in competitive races have taken notice, and are increasingly running on, not from, the ACA. But they are not the only ones acknowledging the changing political landscape; the ACA’s opponents have also seen it, and are taking action. In particular, some GOP-led states who have been putting politics over people by opposing Medicaid expansion are now taking steps to accept it. Here are some of the latest to change their tune:

Pennsylvania: The Keystone State will become the 27th state, and the 12th Republican-led state, to expand its Medicaid program in accordance with the Affordable Care Act. The Obama Administration announced last Thursday that it had granted a waiver and reached agreement with the state to provide health care coverage to 500,000 low-income residents through private insurance. Gov. Tom Corbett (R), the deeply unpopular Pennsylvania governor, has previously fought against expansion but trails in his re-election bid by 25 points while 59 percent of voters support expanding Medicaid.

Tennessee: Gov. Bill Haslem indicated late last week that the state will likely submit a Medicaid expansion plan this soon. “I think we’ll probably go to [the Obama Administration] sometime this fall with a plan … that we think makes sense for Tennessee,” Haslem said. While he did not comment on any further details, the move could mean health coverage for 162,000 Tennesseans.

Wyoming: After initially rejecting Medicaid expansion that would provide health insurance to 17,600 low-income Wyoming residents, Gov. Matt Mead has now said he is now in negotiations with the Obama Administration to find a way to expand the program next year. The LA Times reports that “the reason for Wyoming’s wavering is clear: It’s money.” The state stands to save $50 million per year by expanding. Meanwhile, Wyoming hospitals are losing $200 million per year by treating people who lack insurance.

Another thing for these states, and all other conservative-led states who continue to deny health care to their low-income residents, to consider: they are sending hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to other states who are expanding Medicaid, and receiving nothing in return.

BOTTOM LINE: As candidates who support the ACA increasingly embrace it on the campaign trail, conservatives nationwide are downplaying their opposition to the law. In the latest sign, more conservative states are finally changing course by pushing forward with Medicaid expansion to provide health care to hundreds of thousands of low-income working people and save billions of dollars.

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