Obamacare: What’s Next?

by Michael D. Tanner

Michael Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and author of Leviathan on the Right: How Big-Government Conservatism Brought Down the Republican Revolution.

Added to cato.org on July 4, 2012

This article appeared on National Review (Online) on July 4, 2012.

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One of the few bright spots in the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare was its 7–2 decision striking down the Obama administration’s attempt to blackmail states into going along with a massive and costly expansion of Medicaid. Barely a day later, Florida governor Rick Scott announced that his state would not expand Medicaid eligibility to 133 percent of the poverty level, which comes out to roughly $30,000 per year for a family of four, or allow single, childless men to participate in the program. Earlier, Scott had rejected another key component of Obamacare, refusing to establish a state insurance exchange. He had even returned grants and other funding that the previous governor had received to help implement the legislation.

Scott was quickly joined by at least six other GOP governors in rejecting the Medicaid expansion, including governors Branstad (Iowa), Brownback (Kansas), Haley (South Carolina), Heineman (Nebraska), Jindal (Louisiana), and, not surprisingly, Scott Walker (Wisconsin). At least seven other governors, including Bentley (Alabama), Bryant (Mississippi), Daniels (Indiana), Deal (Georgia), Fallin (Oklahoma), McDonnell (Virginia), Perry (Texas), and Jay Nixon (Missouri), a Democrat, had previously made statements suggesting that they were unlikely to expand their programs. Nevada had earlier passed regulations paving the way to participate in the expansion, but Governor Sandoval has since indicated he may reconsider.

In rejecting Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, these governors will be saving their state taxpayers billions of dollars. Initially, the federal government would have provided additional funding to cover the expansion, but those additional funds would have been phased down, starting in 2017. Eventually state taxpayers would have had to pick up

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