The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act last year. Well, most of it.
The high court struck down the law’s requirement that each state expand its Medicaid program. Instead, the justices decreed that states have the option of accepting — or rejecting — the landmark legislation’s stipulation that Medicaid cover Americans making less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level.
That crucial judicial reprieve, while welcome, put governors across the nation on the spot.
The Obama administration’s expansion advocates pitched the upward shift as a sweet deal for the states. They stressed that Washington would cover all of the extra costs of the expansion through 2017. Then the states’ share of the additional financial obligation would rise in increments to a maximum of 10 percent.
But some governors, including South Carolina’s Nikki Haley, were rightly wary about that guarantee from Washington.
After all, the administration making the promise is led by the president who repeatedly assured Americans while pushing Obamacare: “If you like your health insurance plan, you can keep it.”
No, you can’t.
And the breaking of that fundamental Obamacare pledge does not inspire confidence in the assurance of federal Medicaid funding.
Neither do the nation’s long-term fiscal challenges as inexorable demographic trends put federal entitlements in growing peril.
Yet Josh Earnest, special assistant to the president and principal deputy press secretary, accused Gov. Haley of holding Medicaid expansion “hostage” during a Tuesday conference call with South Carolina reporters.
He pointed out: “We have seen Republican leaders in other states take the actions necessary to expand access in their states.”
That’s their prerogative.
It’s also a choice they may learn to regret.
And Gov. Haley is hardly alone in turning down the Medicaid expansion offer. Twenty-four other states have also decided to pass on it.
As Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., aptly put it Tuesday:
“Given all the problems they have created, you would think the White House would be trying to plug some of the holes in this sinking ship known as Obamacare. Instead, they are out there recruiting more people to come on board. We shouldn’t buy a ticket on the Titanic.”
And we shouldn’t buy a Medicaid deal that sounds too good to be true from an administration that sold Obamacare on false pretenses.