Five hotly contested governor races could have a big impact on Medicaid expansion. If the Democrats take Florida, Maine, Kansas, Wisconsin and Georgia, an additional 1.7 million people would likely become eligible for Medicaid coverage through the federal exchanges, reported The Hill.
Although Medicaid expansion has become a politically divided issue, the Democratic gubernatorial candidates are driven not only by party line but by public opinion. A poll from Morning Consult found that six in 10 voters in non-expansion states think all states should expand the federal-state program.
Former Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Tom Scully predicts that eventually all states will expand Medicaid as the Affordable Care Act becomes more entrenched and less likely to be repealed, he told The Hill.
In Florida, former Republican governor Charlie Crist, who is running as a Democrat supporting Medicaid expansion, is battling current Republican Gov. Rick Scott. Crist says he will ensure Florida expands its Medicaid program and has threatened a line-item veto of the state budget, The Hill noted.
Maine is another state where Medicaid expansion has become a central component of its governor's race. Republican Gov. Paul LePage already has vetoed five separate bills to expand Medicaid, but his Democratic opponent, Rep. Mike Michaud, said he will expand the program the first day on the job.
And in Georgia, Democratic candidate Jason Carter claims that the state will lose billions in tax dollars if it doesn't expand Medicaid. His opponent, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (a former Democrat who switched to the GOP in 1995) opposes expansion.
Meanwhile, not all Republicans are opposed to expansion: Sitting Republican governors in Utah, Tennessee and Wyoming are currently negotiating deals with federal officials to expand Medicaid in their states.