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Pennsylvania's Corbett strikes deal to expand Medicaid

What does a GOP governor do when he's down in the polls? He runs towards the Affordable Care Act, not away from it.
Tom Corbett
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, points to photographers as he votes in the Pennsylvania primary election on May 20, 2014 in the Pittsburgh suburb of Shaler Towhnship, Pa.
Republicans expect to have a successful year in 2014 congressional races, but the gubernatorial terrain looks far less favorable. A fascinating analysis this week found that incumbent GOP governors who've accepted Medicaid expansion are in far better electoral shape than Republicans who refused to embrace the health care policy.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) has been in the latter category -- the Republican had balked at Medicaid expansion and he's trailing badly in most polls -- though as Greg Sargent reported yesterday, the governor just announced a big shift.

In another sign that the politics of Obamacare continue to shift, the Medicaid expansion is now all but certain to come to another big state whose Republican governor had previously resisted it: Pennsylvania. The federal government has approved Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett's application for the state's own version of the Medicaid expansion, without a handful of the conditions Corbett had hoped to impose.... Corbett just announced that he will accept the expansion that has been offered, perhaps with some last-minute changes -- expanding coverage and subsidies to as many as half a million people.

As a substantive matter, this is an important breakthrough. Pennsylvania is the nation's sixth-largest state by population, and with a stroke of the governor's pen, nearly 500,000 low-income adults are poised to gain access to medical care. For many, this may ultimately be a life-saving policy.
Corbett's move also means there are now 27 states (plus the District of Columbia) that have embraced Medicaid expansion, including every state in the Northeast except Maine.
As for the politics, it's fascinating to see the degree to which health care politics have been turned on their ear. Here we have a Republican governor, down in the polls, looking to improve his standing with voters. What does he do? Corbett runs towards the Affordable Care Act, not away from it. For all the assumptions about "Obamacare" being an electoral albatross, the evidence to the contrary keeps getting in the way.
Indeed, this is arguably part of an important emerging pattern.
In May, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R), a fierce ACA critic, announced his willingness to work with the Obama administration on Medicaid expansion in his state, becoming the latest GOP governor to stop denying reality and arithmetic. This week, Republicans in Wyoming signaled their intention to do the same thing.
It's only a matter of time before the die-hard red states that refuse to consider the policy dwindles to only a handful.
Between this and all the other recent evidence, the Republican "repeal" crusade is looking more and more like a punch line and less like a credible threat.