Governor LePage has so disliked the Affordable Care Act that he compared its implementation to activities of the Gestapo.
While the governor eventually apologized for this hyperbole, he has continued to reject it as much as he can. In November 2012, LePage announced he would not have Maine create a state insurance exchange. Instead, the federal government would set one up in the Pine Tree State.
With Medicaid expansion on the line, Gov. LePage also turned down expanded coverage, paid for by federal dollars.
On this, LePage follows some conservative Republican governors, but takes a different path from others, including some who are quite prominent.
Gov. John Kasich of Ohio leads a key swing state and has had a sterling reputation among conservatives.
And now, as Stateline reports:
Echoing Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, a fellow Republican who had long crusaded against the federal law but is now backing Medicaid expansion, Kasich emphasized that he would like to see the law repealed, but the federal money it would pump into the state — about $13 billion over the next seven years — was too much to pass up.
The federal government has promised to provide a 100 percent spending match on the newly eligible over the next three years, phasing that down to 90 percent in 2020.
“This is the right decision for Ohio,” Kasich said, according to Ohio Public Radio. “It’s our money. Let’s bring it home.”
Along with Brewer, Kasich joins Republican governors in Nevada, New Mexico and North Dakota in endorsing Medicaid expansion. Health advocates hope Kasich’s decision will prompt more Republicans to follow suit.
In a document released by Gov. Kasich that reviews key elements of his proposed budget, the governor explains what he sees as the advantages of expanding Medicare:
This budget also takes the significant step of helping more low-income and working Ohioans have access to health care through Medicaid, for which the federal government will pay 100 percent for three years and level off at 90 percent beginning in 2020. While a complex decision, this reform not only helps improve the health of vulnerable Ohioans and frees up local funds for better mental health and addiction services, but it also helps prevent increases to health care premiums and potentially devastating impacts to local hospitals.
Unless the Maine Legislature goes a different direction, and in enough numbers, Maine won’t craft its own health insurance exchange nor expand Medicaid.