Expanding Medicaid: It’s What Reagan Would Have Done

Conservative Republican governor John Kasich is delivering a message to Republican lawmakers who are pretending to invoke the legacy of Ronald Reagan when they work to block Medicaid expansion:

Leaders in the states that have decided against expanding have often invoked Reagan conservatism as the reason to oppose extending Medicaid health care coverage to more people….
Yes, he did all those things. However, he also expanded Medicaid, not just once but several times.
For example, in 1986, President Reagan let states add poor children and pregnant women to Medicaid. And after learning that disabled children could receive Medicaid care only in hospitals and nursing homes, he let states provide them care at home also. Ohio resisted both expansions for a decade but saw powerful results for some of our most vulnerable citizens once we made them.

The truth, of course, is that those who invoke the name of St. Ronnie to justify their obsessive commitment to denying access to health care would drum someone like Reagan out of their party today.

Their ideological crusade is incredibly unwise and penny-foolish, as a Rand Corp. report today notes:

"State policymakers should be aware that if they do not expand Medicaid, fewer people will have health insurance, and state and local governments will have to bear higher costs for uncompensated care," Carter Price and Christine Eibner of the Rand Corp. write. "We estimated states’ costs for expansion to be less than the reduction in their costs for uncompensated care."

We conclude that in terms of coverage, cost, and federal payments, states would do best to expand Medicaid.

Sensible Republicans, the Montana business community and health care cost experts all agree that expanding Medicaid will increase access and decrease costs to the states. It’s too bad that the Republicans in the Montana Legislature couldn’t—or wouldn’t—see that.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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  • Once again I have to teach the teacher –

    The whole purpose of Medicaid Expansion is Obamacare.

    Without Medicaid Expansion, Obamacare does not work. The Great Leader PROMISED that everybody would be covered, and insinuated that it would be FREE if you can’t afford insurance (Medicaid).

    I’m not sure if you read the news, but Obamacare is not popular with Montanans, and in fact, last November voted a measure to PROTECT Montanans from Obamacare penalties, and it passed overwhelmingly. Why would our politicians go against the will of 75% of the voters ?

  • As I recall, the critical vote in Montana preventing Medicaid expansion was cast by a Democrat. True, he says it was a mistake, but it is important to notice that these kinds of “mistakes” never favor progressives. And since I know that the Democratic Party is heavily infiltrated by Republicans who run in Democratic districts, I am not at all surprised my this “mistake.”

    The question arises: what to do about the Obama left, the pro-war pro-austerity anti-Medicare anti-Social Security Democrats. I think we should steal a page from the Republican playbook: Progressives should pretend to be Democrats just to get elected, and then turn the tables and become progressives while in office.

    The party would primary them, of course, but if we do it in enough numbers, we can be that primary opponent.

    What do you think, Don? Are you aboard?

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