Romney Embraced Medicaid Expansion As Governor

While 16 Democratic governors have pledged to accept Obamacare funding to expand their state Medicaid programs, Republican governors say they will likely turn down billions in federal dollars to grow a “failed program,” even if it could insure millions of lower-income Americans.

In Florida, for example, Gov. Rick Scott (R) says he will refuse the funding because “the burden increasingly shifts to Florida taxpayers” — even though the federal government covers 100 percent of the Medicaid expansion costs for the first three years. After five years, the federal government finances 90 percent of the expanded population.

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney also opposes insuring more people in Medicaid and has proposed transforming the program into a block grant that would significantly reduce the federal government’s contribution. But as governor of Massachusetts, Romney personally negotiated more federal funding for the program to finance his health care reform plan and benefited from the very kind of expansion that Republicans across the country are now opposing. Romneycare “included an expansion of Medicaid to children up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level” and increased enrollment caps for adults to cover an additional 92,500 people.

As the Boston Globe reported in May:

It would have been impossible for Massachusetts to do what it did without increased federal Medicaid support,’’ said John McDonough, a major architect of the state’s health care overhaul law and now director of Harvard University’s Center for Public Health Leadership. […]

As governor, Romney worked closely with the late Democratic Senator Edward M. Kennedy to secure hundreds of millions per year in federal aid to realize their shared goal of access to health care for all. Expanding Medicaid coverage – and the flow of federal money that came with it – was a key underpinning of the state’s 2006 law.

Back in 2010, Romney told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly that from the beginning, the plan for Massachusetts’ health reform law “was a 50/50 deal between the federal government and the state government.” But since President Obama is now offering states a similar — if not substantially better — deal, Romney and the Republican party are lining up against it.