Republican governors seeking Obamacare money pretend it’s not Obamacare money


Abraham Lincoln once cleverly said this:

“How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.”

I’m reminded of that truism by the tendency among certain Republican governors to say the federal program from which they’re seeking health-care funds is not Obamacare. But, calling it something other than Obamacare doesn’t make it something other than Obamacare.

The story is HERE:

A variety of Republican governors have sought federal funds under Obamacare, many of them to expand Medicaid eligibility for more residents, a centerpiece of the law that the Supreme Court made optional for states last year.

But shhh! Don’t call it Obamacare, they say, for they despise that law.

In the latest example, vociferous Obamacare critic and Texas Gov. Rick Perry is seeking roughly $100 million in federal funds under a program set up under Obamacare, called Community First Choice, to help states provide home-based health care to chronically ill Medicaid patients, as Politico reported this week.

Perry’s office said Politico’s story was “not accurate” and pointed TPM to a Texas Tribune article in which the governor’s aides downplay the connection of the funds to Obamacare, and noted that what they’re seeking is not the broader Medicaid expansion to extend eligibility to more low-income residents.

“The bottom line is it has nothing to do with Obamacare,” said Perry spokeswoman Allison Castle.

Only it has everything to do with Obamacare. As the Department of Health and Human Services explained last February, the new Community First Choice program was explicitly set up under the Affordable Care Act and offers federal funds so states can pay a higher reimbursement rate to providers of home-based care. The aim was to ratchet back an incentive for ill patients to go to a nursing facility when they can be cared for at home.

Perry is in good company among Republican governors, many of whom want billions of federal funds under the law’s Medicaid expansion, but don’t want to call it Obamacare.

One example is Arizona’s Jan Brewer, who used scorched-earth tactics to compel the reluctant Republicans who lead the state legislature to accept the eligibility expansion under Medicaid. After she won the fight, she insisted she was still against Obamacare and came up with her own name for what she had done.

“While I remain opposed to the Affordable Care Act, it has become increasingly clear to me that the status quo is not an option,” Brewer said. Instead, the governor described the expansion as her own plan. “With my Medicaid Restoration Plan, we can continue providing cost-effective care to these individuals — Arizona’s working poor.”

Another example is Florida’s Rick Scott. He initially rejected the Medicaid expansion. But faced with pressure from hospitals, and an enticing offer to insure many of his uninsured residents on the federal government’s tab, Scott buckled and championed the Obamacare provision back in February — only to be thwarted by his Republican-led legislature.

Then he returned to criticizing Obamacare, papering over the Medicaid component.


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