It came as a bit of a surprise a couple of months ago when Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead (R) expressed an interest in adopting Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act. Wyoming is one of the most conservative states in the nation; Mead is hardly a moderate; and resistance to “Obamacare” is the norm in this ruby-red state.
But Mead wasn’t kidding. In fact, as Dylan Scott reports, the GOP governor has moved beyond just expressing an interest – he’s practically demanding his state move forward on Medicaid expansion.
“We have fought the fight against the (Affordable Care Act),” he said at the statehouse, according to the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. “We’ve done our best to find a fit for Wyoming. We are out of timeouts, and we need to address Medicaid expansion this session.”Mead, as the conservative governor of a thoroughly Republican state, is emblematic of the conservative thawing on Medicaid expansion. He began negotiating with the Obama administration in July, and his office released an expansion plan in November. Under the plan, enrollees would have to make small co-payments and those above the poverty line would have monthly premiums.
In an unexpected move for any Republican governor, Mead has even told lawmakers that the Affordable Care Act provision is necessary to create jobs in Wyoming.
At the same time, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) is another red-state governor who’s advancing Medicaid expansion in his state, and North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) is reportedly in negotiations with administration officials about a conservative version of the policy in his state, too.
And what about Texas?
Regular readers may recall that the Lone Star State’s new far-right governor, Republican Greg Abbott, sought out additional information about the agreement Utah reached with the Obama administration, raising hopes that Texas might be next in line to do the right thing.
Those hopes have since been dashed.
Governor-Elect Greg Abbott (R., Texas) will not expand Medicaid despite hopes by Obamacare supporters that he would do so following a report that he inquired about Utah’s variation of the health program.“Fear not – Governor-elect Abbott has fought Obamacare and will continue to fight against it. He believes the ACA is not the best option for patients, doctors or taxpayers,” spokeswoman Amelia Chasse tells National Review Online in a statement.
I see these as temporary setbacks. Unless Republicans on the Supreme Court completely destroy the American health care system, policies like Medicaid expansion almost certainly will become the norm in the near future.
As we’ve discussed before, those who continue to argue that states should reject the policy out of partisan spite – regardless of the benefits for families, regardless of the needs of state hospitals, regardless of the effects on state finances – are facing headwinds that are only growing stronger.
States can only hurt themselves on purpose for so long before madness ends.