New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced his support for the ‘Obamacare’ Medicaid expansion yesterday, making his state the latest state with a Republican governor to throw its weight behind part of President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement.
Governor’s Christie’s announcement comes after Florida Governor Rick Scott’s similar announcement last week. Ohio Governor John Kasich and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder both accepted the expansion in their states earlier this month. Altogether, Governor Christie is the eighth Republican governor to break from the party on this issue.
“We have an opportunity to ensure that an even greater number of New Jerseyans that are at or near the poverty line will have access to critical health services beginning in January of 2014,” Governor Christie said in his announcement.
The wave of gubernatorial support shows that the appeal of federal dollars is more enticing to state governments than the allure of Anti-Obama politics. The Washington Post reports that the federal government will spend an additional $800 billion on Medicaid as a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to cover all people earning less than 133 percent of the federal poverty line. States only have to put up $8 billion of their own money, thus drawing in far more money than they put out and a substantially larger amount of money than they bring in under the current Medicaid program.
“Expanding Medicaid will ensure New Jersey taxpayers that they will see their dollars maximized,” Governor Christie said. “Federal funding will cover 100 percent of the cost of this expansion for the first three years and then leveling off to 90 percent in 2020.”
The Governor continues to try to walk the small line between remaining popular in his party and maintain popularity in a heavily Democratic state.
“Let me also be clear, I am no fan of the Affordable Care Act,” Governor Christie said. “I think it’s wrong for New Jersey, and I think it’s wrong for America. I fought against it and believe in the long run it will not achieve what it promises. However, it is now the law of the land, and I will make all my judgments as Governor based on what I believe is best for New Jersey.”
The Affordable Care Act originally required that all 50 states expand Medicaid, but the Supreme Court made doing so optional in its ruling this June. Governor Chris Christie and other Republican governors have shown that even without a mandate, the expansion is enticing enough.