Governors signal support for Medicaid expansion

Ohio Gov. John Kasich says Medicaid expansion helped his state fund its fight against the opioid abuse crisis. Image:

Some governors—including two Republicans—are voicing support for Medicaid expansion even as lawmakers on Capitol Hill move toward repealing the Affordable Care Act.

In Michigan, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder wants Congress and President-elect Donald Trump to preserve the state’s unique version of Medicaid expansion even in the event of an ACA repeal, The Detroit News reported. The Healthy Michigan plan, which has seen enrollment surge past initial projections, requires recipients to contribute to health savings accounts and allows them to reduce their co-pays through healthy behaviors.

“I think it’s important that as they look at the Affordable Care Act ... I hope they carefully look at the success we’ve had in Michigan, because we didn’t just do Medicaid expansion,” Snyder told the publication.

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Another Republican governor, John Kasich, credited Medicaid expansion in his state for helping fund the fight against opioid abuse by boosting addiction treatment programs. Ohio led the nation in opioid overdose deaths in 2014, according to a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation

“Thank God we expanded Medicaid because that Medicaid money is helping to rehab people,” Kasich told the Statehouse News Bureau.

And in North Carolina, newly elected Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper said he plans to file paperwork with federal regulators this week to expand Medicaid in his state despite a state law that would prevent him from doing so, reported.

Because a law passed in 2013 requires the state’s General Assembly to approve any state official’s attempt to expand Medicaid, Republican legislative leaders said they would thus ask Congress to reject the new governor’s request, according to the article. Cooper, however, maintains that the law in question infringes his “core executive authority,” to accept federal funds to improve public health.

Among the 32 states that have expanded Medicaid under the ACA, 10 have done so under Republican governors, and at least one expert predicted that they would join the fight to keep it. In addition, Vice President-elect Mike Pence and Trump’s pick to lead the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Seema Verma, both were instrumental in designing Indiana’s conservative spin on Medicaid expansion.