Yesterday, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) called on newly-minted Governor Mark Dayton (D) to cancel an expansion of Medicaid for some 95,000 Minnesotans, for fear that it would commit the state to fully implementing the Affordable Care Act. Dayton recently signed an executive order taking advantage of a provision in the law that allows states to expand the program before 2014, bringing in an estimated $1.3 billion to the state.
Bachmann urged Dayton to rescind the order without offering any plan for how to extend coverage to the 95,000 Minnesotans who would benefit from the expansion:
“All across the country we’re seeing that ObamaCare is driving up healthcare costs. Insurance premiums are rising. Bureaucrats are starting a process that will expand the list of minimum benefits insurance companies must offer. That will raise the price of health insurance and take away consumer choice.
“Serious steps are being taken to stop this job-destroying legislation that will cause healthcare costs to rise exponentially. Yet here in Minnesota, Governor Dayton is unyielding in his desire to fully commit our state to it.
“We are here this morning to call on the Governor to change course.
“If Governor Dayton truly believes that cutting spending and shrinking the size of government are complex issues, then how can he not at least withdraw his Executive Order [that will expand medical assistance, ensnare the state in ObamaCare, and cost Minnesotans millions of dollars], sit down with these lawmakers, and work on the kind of bipartisan healthcare solutions that will not add to our state’s $6 billion deficit.”
This best illustrates the difference between someone who is truly interested in addressing the access problems facing the states and Bachmann, who as the Governor suggested, is “playing presidential politics with the citizens of our state.” Now, to be sure, many governors may be troubled by the scale of Medicaid enrollment increases, but these are concerns that can all be addressed. The bottom line is that over the short term — especially until 2016 — the Medicaid expansion provisions provide states with a lot of extra cash, insure more residents and consequently allow states to reduce payments they make to support uncompensated care costs. (The federal government picks up the entire tab of Medicaid expansion until 2016 and pays for 95% of the expansion in 2017, 94% in 2018, and 93% in 2019. Beginning in 2020, it will fund 90% of the expansion).
As a governor who wants to actually resolve the health care problem rather than bloviate about it, Dayton would be foolish not to take advantage of these provisions. Minnesota will be able to cover a large number of residents at little direct cost (a Kaiser Family Foundation report estimates that the federal government will pick up 95% of the cost of the expansion) and that’s an infinitesimally better proposition than Bachmann’s non-existent solution to the uninsurance problem.