The further we go along into the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and more people see what it offers them, the less likely the GOP is going to be able to do anything about the law and will have to accept it. A new CBS Poll released on Thursday shows that the majority of people like what the ACA provides them, and only a small minority want the law to be repealed.
While the approval ratings for the law are still in the net negative (-9%), when asked if they liked aspects of the law or wanted it repealed altogether, 56% of people stated they liked provisions in the law and would just like to see it improved, while only 34% wanted it repealed. That is a reduction of 9% from November’s poll. Basically, people are coming around on the law and seeing the benefits it offers, which is a bad thing for Republicans who have touted its complete repeal from day one.
It appears that the GOP is slowly coming to the realization that their Obamacare repeal fantasy is now a thing of the past and that they need to start embracing it before it is too late. On Thursday, Utah Governor Gary Herbert announced that he will allow the state to expand Medicaid, which will cover an additional 60,000 residents of the state. This now means that the majority of US states have now expanded Medicaid coverage to its residents and will accept the additional federal funds.
If the reddest of red states (Utah) can come to the realization that it is better to provide additional help for its people, you have to wonder if and when the other red states will follow suit. It would seem like just a matter of time, right? For many of those states, sure. However, you do have certain governors who have national ambitions who will hold out as long as possible to keep their hardcore conservative cred. For instance, Texas won’t expand over the next several months, as outgoing Governor Rick Perry is going to put his hat in the ring for a Presidential nomination. Therefore, he can’t have that brought up in any of the GOP debates or out on the campaign trail.
Same goes for Scott Walker in Wisconsin, despite the state being a more moderate one that supported President Obama in 2008 and 2012. However, Walker sees himself as a potential candidate, so he will hold off as long as possible. Louisiana and Bobby Jindal fall into this same category. Yet, you have a number of other solid red states where the governors don’t have Presidential ambitions, so how long will they hold out? Will they fall like dominoes now that Utah has jumped ship?
Currently, 26 states plus D.C. have expanded Medicaid. It appears that Missouri, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire will follow suit shortly, as they’ve been considering it for a while now. Virginia will almost certainly expand it very soon as Democrats recently swept the statewide elections and took control of one of the chambers of legislature. Other states with embattled Republican governors like Rick Scott in Florida and Paul LePage in Maine may also see an expansion sooner rather than later.
The thing is, once expansion of Medicaid takes effect in a state, there is no way the state is going to roll it back. That would be political suicide, as you would be placing tens of thousands of people in medical and financial peril by doing that. No Republican running is going to be able to win on a platform of taking away what is already in place. Therefore, it looks like you are only going to have a few stragglers who will hold out to the very end, mainly Deep South states like Alabama and Mississippi, and largely rural states like Wyoming and Idaho. Eventually, though, they will almost certainly have to come around, as residents will see that the majority of people in this country have access to something they don’t.