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March 4, 2013

HOWEY: Medicaid ideology ... and elusive answers

INDIANAPOLIS — After listening to Gov. Mike Pence and legislative leaders at the calendar halfway point of the Indiana General Assembly, one thing is clear: We have a lot of ideology and lack a lot of metrics and answers.

And I’ll give you the prime example: Pence and Republicans like Senate President Pro Tem David Long and Speaker Brian Bosma are opting for the Healthy Indiana Plan as opposed to the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as “Obamacare”).

While these Republicans all are quick to say that Medicaid expansion will almost assuredly be too expensive, no one can say what HIP will cost.

In the past two weeks, a parade of conservative, Republican governors — all greatly hostile to Obamacare — have made the controversial call to expand Medicaid during a three-year period when the federal government will pick up 100 percent of the costs. Ohio’s John Kasich, Michigan’s Rick Snyder, Florida’s Rick Scott and, on Wednesday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, himself a potential presidential rival of Pence, have begrudgingly opted for Medicaid expansion.

As Christie put it, “Let me be clear: I am no fan of the Affordable Care Act. I think it is wrong for New Jersey and for America. I fought against it and believe, in the long run, it will not achieve what it promises. However, it is now the law of the land. I will make all my judgments as governor based on what is best for New Jerseyans.”

“This makes sense for the physical and fiscal health of Michigan,” Snyder said in a Feb. 6 statement.

Pence, however, described it in political terms, saying Medicaid expansion is “where the government says, ‘Here’s a baby elephant. We’ll agree to pay for the hay for the next five years,’” Pence said, adding, “Washington is broke, with more than $16 trillion in national debt.”

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