Several Republican governors have said they plan not to expand their states' Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act. On The Rachel Maddow Show Monday, one former governor said failing to do so would be "gubernatorial malpractice."
Howard Dean said accepting federal money to expand Medicaid would not only help the uninsured, it would also jolt states' struggling economies.
"This is just stupidity if governors refuse this," said Dean, who served as governor of Vermont and came close to capturing the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004. "Because not only does it boost their healthcare sector and insure a lot of people, it raises their gross domestic product, because it increases spending by the private sector and the hospital sector in every aspect of the state's economy."
The Supreme Court ruled last week that states could not be penalized for refusing to expand Medicaid under the new law, potentially opening the door for Republican-led states to leave billions of federal dollars for that purpose on the table.
Dean predicted to guest-host Ezra Klein that even Texas, which has appeared among the most reluctant of all states to implement Obamacare, and which stands to receive more federal Medicaid dollars than any other state, will relent when push comes to shove.
"I don't care who the governor in Texas is, they're gonna take this money," said Dean. "It's $52 billion, and they have a really sophisticated network of hospitals, probably the third or fourth most sophisticated in the whole country ... If you think that the governor, whoever it is, whether Republican or Democrat, is gonna be able to turn down $52 billion and not be eaten alive by places like Baylor and UT Medical Center, you've got another thing coming."
Dean said he expects other red states to follow suit.
"South Carolina gets an 80 percent [federal] match," he continued. "For [Governor] Nikki Haley not to take that 80 percent from the federal government is gubernatorial malpractice. It just is. I mean, that's a hell of a lot of money coming into a state that isn't doing so well," he said.