Medicaid Expansion May Be a Sleeper Issue for Democrats This Year

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Once Obamacare has been in place for a while, will it become popular enough that Republicans will finally give up their opposition? Maybe, maybe not. But how about the Medicaid expansion? The evidence there might be a little clearer. Here’s Greg Sargent:

The Medicaid expansion, as an issue, is kind of taking on a life of its own, independent of Big Bad Obamacare. In Louisiana, Senator Mary Landrieu has aggressively criticized the rollout of the law, but has also attacked Republicans for refusing to implement the Medicaid expansion. In Georgia, Dem Senate candidate Michelle Nunn has called for fixes to the law while also saying the state should expand Medicaid.

….Meanwhile, the expansion could hold pitfalls for Republicans, because as enrollment mounts, they may be pressed to say whether they really support taking that coverage away from people. Mitch McConnell was recently asked to comment on Kentuckians benefitting from the law, and he filibustered. The GOP Senate candidate in West Virginia is gung ho for repeal but has hedged on the expansion.

Hmmm. Jonathan Bernstein took a quick look at the websites of Republican gubernatorial challengers in blue states that have expanded Medicaid but look like possible Republican pickups. After all the appropriate caveats, he tells us what he found:

And the answer? Nada. Zip. Nothing. None of these Republicans is pledging to repeal the Medicaid expansion put in place by a Democratic governor….I don’t want to make more of this than the evidence can support. But for what it’s worth, early evidence supports the liberal optimist (and conservative pessimist) view: that where it’s in place, Medicaid expansion is here to stay.

If that’s truly the case, then sooner or later Obamacare’s Medicaid component will expand to all 50 states. Eventually, every state will have a governor who is willing to embrace it. Provided that trend is not counteracted by reversals in states that were in the first wave of Medicaid expansion, we’re talking about a one-way street. The only question is how long it takes.

Pushing for Medicaid expansion in the holdout states could turn out to be a solid populist issue for Democrats this year. The argument is simple: It’s free medical care and it doesn’t cost the state anything. Who’s against that? We’ll find out later this year how well that argument works.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate