The Corner

Obama Isn’t Trying to Strong Arm Just One Red State into Expanding Obamacare — He’s Got His Eye on Four

Florida governor Rick Scott filed suit against the Obama administration last week on the grounds that the feds are trying to coerce his state into expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The bludgeon of choice: threatening not to renew billions of dollars in funding to pay hospitals for providing care to low-income uninsured patients.

It so happens that there are three other states that get this particular kind of funding that haven’t already expanded Medicaid: Kansas, Tennessee, and Texas. And what do you know, Obama is now going to use it against them, too.

Kaiser Health News:

Add Tennessee and Kansas to the list of states that have been warned by the Obama administration that failing to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act could jeopardize special funding to pay hospitals and doctors for treating the poor.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services confirmed Tuesday that it gave officials in those states the same message that had been delivered to Texas and Florida about the risk to funding for so-called “uncompensated care pools” — Medicaid money that helps pay the cost of care for the uninsured.

CMS officials said they reached out to all nine states that get such funds, including those that expanded Medicaid, about how the agency will decide future requests. . . .

The Texas funding is scheduled to end in September 2016. Officials there have also expressed indignation at what they perceive to be coercive pressure and talked about joining Scott’s lawsuit.

As you’ll remember, the Supreme Court struck down Obamacare’s original structure of holding all Medicaid funding contingent on states’ accepting the expansion, because it was deemed to be federal coercion of state governments. Now, the Obama administration is threatening to hold a much smaller slice of Medicaid funding hostage. Whatever the result of the political battle, it’s clear that the Obama administration is doing all it can to get states to sign onto expanding Medicaid before he leaves office.

Patrick BrennanPatrick Brennan is a writer and policy analyst based in Washington, D.C. He was Director of Digital Content for Marco Rubio's presidential campaign, writing op-eds, policy content, and leading the ...

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