It sounded unlikely from the start, but GOP leaders are confirming suspicions that they want nothing to do with President Obama’s stated plans to expand Medicaid.
Obama wants to expand Medicaid in the 19 states that have thus far resisted the federally-funded expansion that is a key part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Obama has suggested that states that decide to expand Medicaid be entitled to three years in which the expansion is entirely federally-funded.
The idea is that they would enjoy the same level of funding that states that initially took part in the expansion got.
Starting in 2017, the federal government will reduce the portion of the tab it is picking up, and it will only guarantee funding for 90 percent of the costs after 2020.
But U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, the number-three Republican in the House of Representatives, told the New Orleans Times-Picayune last week that few members of his party are interested in approving financial incentives for Medicaid expansion.
“For the president to suggest that Congress give him billions of more dollars that just don’t exist, to keep funding a broken system, isn’t a viable answer. And I don’t see much support in Congress to change that law,” Scalise said. “If anything, there’s clearly strong support to repeal (Obamacare) and work on strong reforms that actually lower costs and put patients back in charge of their health care.”
But just because GOP leadership doesn’t support additional money for expanding Medicaid doesn’t mean that there won’t be some rank-and-file Republicans tempted to get additional dollars for their states. In a recent race for governor in Louisiana, the Democratic candidate, John Bel Edwards, successfully made Medicaid expansion a central part of his platform.
Intra-party debate among GOP state leaders over whether to accept the expansion has intensified over the past year.
Both Alaska and Montana have expanded, while the Republican governors of Wyoming and Utah are pushing for expansion in the face of resistance from conservative state legislators.