Tennessee Opts Into ObamaCare Medicaid Expansion
Another news cycle, another Republican governor decides to expand Medicaid with ObamaCare dollars.
Last Friday, Tennessee Republican Governor Bill Haslam joined Pennsylvania’s Tom Corbett, Indiana’s Mike Pence and others in trying to carve out a middle ground between a straight yes or no on expansion.
Haslam hasn’t committed himself to specifics, saying only that “sometime this fall” his administration will submit an alternative plan to federal regulators.
States like Wisconsin, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Arkansas and Iowa have won various levels of approval to use ObamaCare’s increased Medicaid funding to provide subsidized health insurance plans to some of the poorest members of their populations.
Expanding Medicaid is a tempting offer because the federal government pays for about half of every dollar spent on the state’s program. ObamaCare makes taking the plunge almost irresistible since it pays for every dollar of expansion until 2017, and 90 percent of all new spending until 2020. For sitting governors with term limits, that translates into an opportunity to get lots of credit for helping poor people before most of the bill comes due.
The politics of ObamaCare are constantly evolving, and the lesson for conservatives about the law’s Medicaid expansion is this: Unless there is a credible alternative to growing government, many politicians will opt for good press and worry about the policy implications later.
Heading into the 2016 presidential cycle, there needs to be a way to determine which ideas adhere to constitutional principles, preserve the free market and bolster human flourishing – which includes access to health care.
The sooner, the better.