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.