by Kyle Weidleman | January 31, 2013
During the next two years, states have several opportunities to expand health care coverage for currently uninsured citizens under the Affordable Care Act. But despite hefty financial subsidies from the federal government, some of the same governors who have called for an outright repeal of the act are now distorting the facts to justify denying health care to hundreds of thousands of residents in their states.
Under the act, states are empowered to set up health care purchasing ‘exchanges’ to make it easier for individuals to buy affordable coverage or they can allow the Federal government to run an exchange instead. The act also gives states the ability to expand Medicaid coverage to currently ineligible low wage workers at no cost for the first three years. States also have the ability to expand Medicaid coverage to currently ineligible low wage workers. States also have the ability to opt out of the Medicaid expansion.
Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government will fund Medicaid coverage that will cover millions of working families who would not otherwise have health insurance. The federal government will pay the full cost of the expansion for three years and 90 percent of the cost thereafter. Unfortunately, several governors have already said they will refuse to participate.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence turned down the assistance that would help insure nearly 400,000 Hoosiers. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is considering leaving 564,000 Michiganders without an option for affordable health insurance. Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman has rejected the expansion that would cover 78,000 state residents. And Ohio Gov. John Kasich has refused to make a decision, keeping uncertain health care coverage for 600,000 Buckeye State residents.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott has gone so far as to manufacture wildly inaccurate figures to explain why he will not cover 1.2 million Floridians under the act. Scott reported that the Medicaid expansion would cost his state $26 billion over 10 years—even though he knew the number was hugely inflated. The actual figure was later revised downward by nearly 90 percent.
Playing fast and loose with the numbers is nothing new to Scott. Before he was governor, he ran a for-profit hospital system defrauded government health programs—including Medicaid—by more than $1.5 billion.
While these short-sighted governors play political games, millions of working families will continue to be denied affordable healthcare. AFSCME member and our allies will continue to fight for health care coverage that is affordable and accessible to all.