Republican victories make Medicaid Expansion unlikely in some states

November 04, 2014

The re-election of Republican governors in closely contested races in Florida, Georgia, Wisconsin, Maine and Kansas dims the chances of Medicaid expansion in those states. Joan Alker, executive director of the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University, said the playing field for Medicaid expansion didn't shift dramatically. Even if Democrats had been victorious in governor races, they still faced a long shot getting Medicaid expansion through Republican-controlled legislatures:

  • In Florida, Republican Gov. Rick Scott has supported Medicaid expansion, but has done little to persuade state lawmakers to extend the program to 850,000 residents;
  • The future of Arkansas' private option Medicaid expansion could be in trouble with the election of Republican Asa Hutchinson as governor and GOP gains in the state House and Senate. Hutchinson replaces Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe, who had championed the state's expansion plan. Arkansas' expansion is vulnerable because by law, the legislature must reauthorize it every year with a 75 percent majority;
  • In Alaska, Bill Walker, an independent candidate who favors expansion, holds a small lead over incumbent Gov. Sean Parnell, who opposes it. Should Walker prevail after absentee ballots are counted, he still must get the support of his Republican-controlled legislature. About 26,000 Alaskans would gain coverage through expansion; and
  • The exception was Maine, where Gov. Paul LePage, who was re-elected, has five times vetoed efforts by his state's Democratic-controlled legislature to expand the program

Caroline Pearson, VP of consulting firm Avalere Health, said expansion advocates will turn their attention to Utah, whose Republican governor hopes to take a plan to the GOP-controlled legislature, and Wyoming, where Gov. Matt Mead, also a Republican, has expressed interest in widening eligibility for Medicaid. Indiana is also negotiating with the Obama administration to expand Medicaid.
Related News:
Blog: States benefiting most from ACA elected Republicans - The New York Times