Shifting Republican Strategies Could Open Door For Millions Of Poor To Apply For Medicaid

A growing number of Republican lawmakers are considering an expansion of Medicaid coverage in their respective states. This could lead to millions of previously-ineligible adults being able to apply for Medicaid and receive assistance from the government-run health care program.

The most recent high-profile Republican to express willingness to expand coverage is Florida Governer Rick Scott, according to CNNMoney. On Wednesday Scott reversed his decision to not support Medicaid expansion as part of the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare. Now, adults with incomes below 138% of the poverty line will be eligible for assistance. This follows in the wake of Republican politicians in Ohio, Michigan, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and North Dakota caving to demands for Medicaid expansion.

Last year the Supreme Court ruled that states cannot be forced to broaden Medicaid coverage. However, pressure from hospitals, local governments, and various medical groups have led many GOP leaders to reconsider their hard-line stance against expansion. Allowing more impoverished adults to apply for Medicaid could greatly reduce costs for hospitals, whose care for those without healthcare coverage would fall under the expansion.

January Angeles, a senior policy analyst for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, told CNNMoney that “in a lot of these states, a lot of stakeholders have done a good job making the business case.”

Despite the business benefits that could result from the decision to expand Medicaid coverage, Republican politicians who reverse their stance on the policy are likely to find themselves between a rock and a hard place.

“I think Gov. Perry will have a lot of pressure,” said Rice University professor Bob Stein to kuhf news. “Whether he does it or not remains to be seen. I think it’ll give you some indication of what his intentions are for running for reelection.”

It remains to be seen how allowing a large influx of citizens to apply for Medicaid will truly affect these states’ economic and political dynamics. While the coverage will certainly be a boon to those who cannot afford adequate healthcare coverage, the backlash against Republicans who support the initiative may have serious implications during the next election cycle. Do you support the GOP lawmakers’ change of heart?