Attempt to force Obamacare expansion on states backfires; ‘awakened a sleeping giant’

By: Jason Hart

Trying to force Obamacare expansion onto Florida by cutting funding for an existing Medicaid program has backfired on President Obama.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, is suing Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services over plans to stop funding the state’s Low Income Pool program, which compensates hospitals for seeing uninsured patients.


Almost immediately, Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Republican Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback announced they would join the suit against HHS.

Christie Herrera, senior fellow at Florida’s free-market Foundation for Government Accountability, told the Obama administration has “awakened a sleeping giant.”

“They’ve raised the ire of all these other states that are in Florida’s exact position, and that’s why you’ve seen Kansas and Texas filing amicus briefs in the lawsuit,” Herrera said during a phone interview.

FGA and other critics of Obamacare expansion have warned states not to trust promises of new federal funding — a point the Obama administration is inadvertently driving home.

Florida’s LIP, like other Medicaid waiver programs, must be periodically reauthorized by the federal government. The waiver system keeps states on a short leash and makes any meaningful state control temporary.

Kansas, Texas and Tennessee will be at the mercy of HHS for the renewal of similar programs for the uninsured and have not expanded Medicaid under Obamacare.
Where Obamacare expansion is concerned, “the federal government needs Florida more than Florida needs the federal government,” Herrera said.

“HHS has been trying so hard to land the big fish of Medicaid expansion like Florida and Texas, the last thing they need to do is make those states mad and join them together against Obamacare,” she explained. “That’s exactly what they’ve done, and that’s why their plan has backfired.”

In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the feds could not coerce states into the Obamacare expansion by threatening to cut off existing Medicaid funding. Scott seeks to build on that ruling.

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By: Jason Hart

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