Yesterday, Chris Christie became the eighth Republican governor to capitulate on Obamacare’s massive Medicaid expansion, declaring his desire to implement it in his state. Yet while Christie wasn’t the first GOP governor to fold, he was presumably the first to offer the novel defense that his decision somehow won’t cost federal taxpayers any money.
In attempting to justify his desire to aid and abet Obamacare, Christie spoke about what would have happened if he had decided differently: “Let me be clear, refusing these federal dollars does not mean that they won’t be spent. It just means that they will be used to expand health care access in New York, Connecticut, Ohio, or somewhere else.”
Is Christie really trying to claim that if New Jersey were to have turned down this Obamacare money, those other states would somehow have gotten the Garden State’s share as a bonus? Is he claiming that if only one state had been willing to implement Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, that one state would have gotten every penny of the money that was allocated for all fifty states?
This claim, of course, has no basis in fact. There’s nothing in Obamacare that says there’s a fixed pool of money to be divided up among as many states as choose to participate in the payoff. Rather, the amount of money that New York, Connecticut, and Ohio will receive to fund their Obamacare Medicaid expansions has nothing to do with how much money New Jersey will or won’t take.
Nearly half of all of the newly insured under Obamacare would be dumped into Medicaid, where they’d receive subpar care at taxpayer expense. So far, eight Republican governors, including Christie, have decided to embrace Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion in their states: Rick Scott of Florida; John Kasich of Ohio; Rick Snyder of Michigan; Jan Brewer of Arizona; Brian Sandoval of Nevada; Susana Martinez of New Mexico; and Jack Dalrymple of North Dakota. It remains to be seen whether any of them will be stopped by their state legislatures.
The decisions of these eight GOP governors beg two questions: What good does it do to have Republican governors if the federal government can buy them off nearly as easily as it can buy off Democratic governors? And is the Republican party against Obamacare, or not?
More optimistically, however, 14 GOP governors have held the line, rejecting Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion in their states: Scott Walker of Wisconsin; Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania; Pat McCrory of North Carolina; Rick Perry of Texas; Bobby Jindal of Louisiana; Terry Branstad of Iowa; Paul LePage of Maine; Robert Bentley of Alabama; Mary Fallin of Oklahoma; Nikki Haley of South Carolina; Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota; Nathan Deal of Georgia; Phil Bryant of Mississippi; and C.L. Otter of Idaho.
Contrary to Christie’s suggestion, their principled stands won’t mean even more money for New Jersey.