I am not the first progressive to point out that conservatives often vote for — and fight vehemently for — legislation that is antithetical to their own interest. So it is perhaps not surprising to see the same dynamic working among red states. Those states that stand to benefit the most from the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion are the very ones that are fighting the hardest against it.
Voting out ACA
House Republicans tried to vote the ACA out of existence earlier this week. The redundant effort was entirely symbolic, since it never had a chance of passing the Democratically-controlled Senate. And if by some miracle it had, it would certainly have been vetoed by the president. But conservatives are making a point. And, friends, they have made it. Thirty-three times now.
The same Representatives who endless decry Democrats as wasteful have held up Congress with these futile efforts, wasting days and thousands, if not millions, of dollars that could have been spent on actual governing.
ACA reduces deficit
The Congressional Budget Office says that the Affordable care Act will reduce the deficit, in spite of doom-saying Republican claims that it will cost every American hugely and prevent “job creation.” Also, in January, the CBO estimated that ACA repeal efforts would increase the national deficit by $230 billion by 2021.
The Medicare expansion clause is the only part of the ACA legislation that was not upheld by the Supreme Court in June. The court found fault with the law’s provision that would have mandated states to expand Medicaid coverage, or opt out of the program entirely. The court ruled that any state may opt out of Medicaid expansion without losing its federal allotment.
The ACA proposed that Medicaid coverage be expanded to those who earn up to 133 percent of the poverty line, or $14,857 annually for a single person. For a family of four, that’s $30,657 a year. Not many would argue that those families and individuals could certainly use the help.
At this point, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, South Carolina and Wisconsin have all chosen to opt out of expansion. However, they would be among the states to benefit the most from it.
At this time, states are required to fund 43 percent of Medicaid. They also get to decide the cut-off point for resident coverage. Texas, for example — which has the highest rate of uninsured in the U.S. – covers only those who earn a paltry 26 percent of the poverty line, or $2,905 a year. As untenable as that is, it would seem Governor Rick Perry is balking that Medicaid expansion would cost the state millions more.
But hold on. The ACA legislation also says that it will fund the increase imposed on any state until 2020. After that, it will continue to fund 90 percent of the difference.
So conservative states like Kentucky, South Carolina, Mississippi, Arizona, Louisiana, Texas and South Carolina would all benefit from Medicaid expansion. Yet the provision continues to encounter resistance.
All this kicking will likely cease when it becomes evident that Medicaid expansion will lead to a healthier constituency as well as deficit reduction. According to Daily Finance, some states also shook their figurative fists at Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program when they were first introduced. But those states eventually stopped kicking because, as Glenn Frey said, “It’s the lure of easy money. It’s got a very strong appeal.”
Meanwhile, the American people are beginning to realize how beneficial the ACA law will be in their lives. In April, a Washington Post/ABC poll showed Americans opposed the law, 53-39 percent. A recent poll shows an even slit of 47-47 percent.