I have argued that states must forge a united front against Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. Without that coordination, each state is reduced to an isolated prisoners’ dilemma, and all of them will end up worse off than if they stood together.
Well, now the rumor is that Florida governor Rick Scott could announce as early as tomorrow that his state will also accept Medicaid expansion. Seven GOP states have already announced that they will bow down to federal overreach and expand Medicaid – Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Montana, North Dakota, Michigan, and, most recently, Ohio.
When Ohio announced that it would go along with Medicaid expansion, the editors had a sharp reaction. Avik Roy chimed in arguing that Ohio governor John Kasich’s case for caving in was misleading. Conservatives had a particularly bad reaction to Ohio’s announcement because, unlike the other six, it’s a big state that doesn’t have the excuse of being a basket case. Conservatives across the country are counting on states like that to stand up to Washington.
Instead, Ohio went for the money. And mind you, it’s not “free money.” It’s basically stolen money, however constitutional the practice may be under current Supreme Court decisions. The grand theft here is that Congress is going to tax states for the Medicaid expansion whether they participate in it or not; and if they don’t participate, all that money will just go to other states — that’s the penalty. Ohio made its announcement knowing that most other conservative states had already declared against Medicaid expansion, and must have known that it stood to gain huge sums forcibly transferred from those other states. And that’s just shameful.
Any state that accepts Medicaid expansion is basically giving up its health-care freedom and mortgaging its fiscal future in order to take the federal offer of billions forcibly transferred from hard-working families in Texas, Wisconsin, Louisiana, and the other states that have announced their opposition to Obamacare.
The reason why it’s so urgent for the remaining red states to coordinate a united front against Medicaid expansion, is that Congress will be forced to revisit the entire law if half the states refuse the Medicaid expansion.
So let’s hope the rumors about Florida breaking ranks with its sister red states aren’t true. If they are, the conservative movement will suffer the most grievous blow since the Supreme Court’s decision upholding Obamacare last year. And the folks in Tallahassee should expect a particularly bad reaction.
— Mario Loyola is director of the Center for Tenth Amendment Studies at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.