Opposing the Affordable Care Act appears to have gone from a principled stance to an impracticality for some Republican governors. In a move drawing fierce criticism from some conservatives, Ohio Gov. John Kasich (who campaigned in 2010 on a platform that included denouncing the health care law) announced on Monday that he supports a vast expansion of his state’s Medicaid program, made possible by the ACA, that could bring new insurance coverage to millions of Americans nationwide. Then Wednesday, Michigan’s governor, Republican Rick Snyder, followed suit. In total, six Republican governors have now said they will participate in Obamacare’s Medicare expansion.
Because he had been so critical of the ACA in the past, Kasich’s decision could provide political cover for other Republican governors who may be considering similar expansions of Medicaid, which is a joint state and federal program. Under the ACA, states that open Medicaid to everyone earning up to 133% of the federal poverty level ($14,856 in 2012 for a single person) will receive 100% federal funding for newly eligible enrollees initially, phasing down to 90% by 2020. (Most states now receive a far smaller federal match for Medicaid beneficiaries.) Kasich said it “makes great sense for the state of Ohio.”