Why Mayors Might Want Obamacare Even if GOP Governors Reject It

Garance Franke-Ruta, The Atlantic
National Journal

Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden, who worked to develop the health care overhaul for President Obama before returning to Washington's think-tank sector, laid out a reason why Republican governors' rejection of the Medicaid expansion provision in the Affordable Care Act might not be such a popular move at the municipal level.

"There is a sort of political economy problem on Medicaid," she said, turning to the part of the health care law that was not upheld by the Supreme Court. States cannot be required to accept the expansion of Medicaid, even with a 100 percent federal match to begin with, or risk losing all their Medicaid funding, the court ruled. Ten GOP governors "have said definitively that they will not accept the funds, while 19 are still considering other options," according to a ThinkProgress survey.

Latest Politics Posts:
Loading feed...

"States save a lot of money through their Medicaid" through the new bill, Tanden told an audience on Monday at the Aspen Ideas Festival. " ... The problem for some states is that -- the challenge is that that occurs often at the local level." 

She continued: "So Florida is a perfect example.... Florida overall will save, but it's not clear entirely how much that Governor Scott will save." Scott has said he will reject the Medicaid expansion for Florida. 

"I will say that as the leader of a state you should care about both the state-level costs and municipal costs, but it's not entirely clear that every governor will. And I think that will be a friction."

Mayors might recognize a "big windfall" for communities in the Medicaid expansion as currently uncompensated local costs born by municipalities begin to be eased with the new Medicaid funds from the federal government. And they might turn against their governors if they see them getting in the way of easing one strain on tight local budgets, Tanden suggested.