Governor of Florida to Accept Obamacare Medicaid Expansion Money

February 20th, 2013

This is huge.

When the history of President Obama’s drive for national health care is written, there are several moments that will be looked back upon as having cemented the law in place. There were “conservative” Democrats Ben Nelson and Bart Stupak dropping their objections to Obamacare to get the legislation across the finish line. There was Chief Justice John Roberts  siding with the Supreme Court’s liberals to uphold the constitutionality of the law. There was President Obama’s reelection victory, which crushed any feasible path to full repeal. On Thursday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s delivered yet another blow to opponents to Obamacare by endorsing the law’s Medicaid expansion in his state. Scott’s decision is of both symbolic and substantive importance.

“Your money or your life.”

Update: Some more analysis on this decision:

Scott, like other red-state governors, has come under intense pressure from hospitals. The Florida Hospital Association, which stands to benefit significantly from the expansion, has been lobbying, advertising and polling to try to persuade state officials to expand. Scott, a former hospital executive, has close ties to that community.

But if administration officials are quietly celebrating, the White House is unlikely to gloat too publicly. It has every incentive to continue to urge governors to sign on. The success of its health reform law depends on other states following suit so the law can expand coverage to as many uninsured Americans as possible. In the case of Florida, the administration apparently sweetened the deal by signing off on a Medicaid waiver the state wanted to continue privatizing the program for existing beneficiaries. “They’ve made it as easy as possible,” said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, the president of the conservative American Action Forum. “They need to make the Affordable Care Act work.”

Update 2: More from Michael Cannon:

There is speculation that Scott made a deal with the Obama administration: he would drop his opposition to the Medicaid expansion in exchange for HHS approving Florida’s plan to put its Medicaid enrollees in managed care plans. HHS approved Florida’s plan today. But economists have shown that moving Medicaid enrollees into managed care increases state and federal spending because it lures more people into the program. So it appears that Scott supported ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion so that the Obama administration would support his.

Scott says he still opposes having Florida create a health insurance Exchange. Then again, he said the same thing about the Medicaid expansion. So in addition to whatever other damage his flip-flop does, he has squandered his credibility as an opponent of ObamaCare.