Posted by: Allison Rice | January 21, 2013

Medicaid in the Media

We’ve been following the daily moves of governors and state legislatures on whether to expand Medicaid.  Jan Brewer’s announcement last week that she would support Medicaid expansion in Arizona was the most surprising.  A piece in the January 19 New York Times looks at the politics of this move by Governor Brewer.  Bottom line: electoral politics in the Southwest are leaning Democratic and Latino.  Governor Brewer and the two other Republican governors in the Southwest that have endorsed expansion (Martinez in New Mexico and Sandoval in Nevada), recognize the need to reach out to Latino and democratic leaning voters.  Not the same in the solid red South.  From the piece:

Both demography and geography are playing a role in which governors are choosing to expand Medicaid and which are not, observers said. Republican governors bucked the party line in the Southwest, where Latinos are at once a significant slice of the poor population and a powerful voting bloc. But in the South, Republican governors have stayed in unwavering opposition to expanding Medicaid or embracing any of the voluntary aspects of Mr. Obama’s health care law.

“The South is Republican, and it’s getting more Republican, so there is very little political risk there in letting the hard-right Republican philosophy take over” despite the region’s substantial number of poor residents without health insurance, said Richard White, a professor of history at Stanford University.

Greg Marx at the Columbia Journalism Review explains the role of lobbying by hospitals and business interests in Governor Brewer’s embrace of Medicaid expansion.  His piece also highlights some of the state-based reporting that has sought to keep politicians honest in the debate over expansion.  Sadly, nothing of note from the North Carolina press.

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