Not a single U.S. governor has fully endorsed the Senate’s health care repeal bill, according to a new report from advocacy group Protect Our Care released Friday.
Just two governors, Gov. Matt Bevin of Kentucky and Gov. Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota — both of whom are Republicans — have come out in support of the bill, though neither fully endorsed it. Bevin told a radio host last month that the proposal was “not really a good bill” but that it would give states more control, and Daugaard said the bill’s Medicaid cuts were an opportunity to shrink the federal deficit.
Bevin and Daugaard’s mild shows of support for the bill are the strongest endorsements by U.S. governors. A much larger group — 17 Republican governors and one Democrat (Gov. David Ige of Hawaii) — have said they are monitoring or reviewing the bill or otherwise had no comment, and another even larger group of 30 governors, including 14 Republicans, have expressed concerns about the bill or come out in opposition.
Of the Republican governors who have expressed concerns with or opposition to the bill, many cited concerns about cuts to Medicaid funding.
“Since Washington has started debating reforms to the health care law, Governor Baker has been clear that any changes must preserve our ability to provide quality healthcare coverage in Massachusetts and allow flexibility to responsibly manage programs like Medicaid — and the administration is concerned that upon first review, this version falls short and will result in significant funding losses for our state,” a spokesperson for Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, said.
Gov. Brian Sandoval, the Republican governor of Nevada, echoed Baker’s concerns.
“My position is the same in terms of protecting the 200,000-plus lives of the newly eligibles associated with the Medicaid expansion,” Sandoval said. “They are living healthier and happier lives. We have cut our uninsured rate by more than half. As I sit here today, there hasn’t been anything presented to me that would alleviate that concern.”
Gov. Pete Ricketts, the Republican governor of Nebraska, expressed concerns that the bill was designed to shift health care costs onto the states.
“I think we do have a concern to make sure the federal government just isn’t shifting costs from the federal government to us, just mandating that we have to do things and then asking us to pay for it,” Ricketts said.
Governor of Ohio and former Republican candidate for president John Kasich has taken a particularly critical stance against the bill, issuing a number of statements opposing the proposal and calling the bill “unacceptable.” Kasich has been the GOP leader for Medicaid expansion.
After the Congressional Budget Office scored the Senate’s version of the health care bill and found that it would leave 22 million more people uninsured by 2026, Kasich cited the score and said, “That’s good public policy? Are you kidding me?”
At least two Republican governors have said they oppose the Senate’s proposal because it doesn’t go far enough, a position that hyper-conservative Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah have also taken.
Maine Gov. Paul LePage, who gained notoriety for his racist rhetoric and a threatening voicemail he left for a Democratic lawmaker, complained the bill doesn’t go far enough in repealing the Affordable Care Act, as did Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, who said that “continuing to expand Obamacare is not repeal.”
Democratic governors, all of whom other than Ige have expressed concerns about the bill or come out in opposition to it, echoed many of the same talking points from Democrats in Congress and progressive activists, citing increased premiums and the potentially fatal consequences of Americans losing health coverage.
“Senate Republicans have broken their promise to protect the American people and are trying to pass an inhumane piece of legislation that hurts middle class New Yorkers, discriminates against women, defunds Planned Parenthood, and turns its back on the most vulnerable Americans,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has been floated as a potential Democratic candidate for president in 2020, said in a statement last month.