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Barrasso's 2nd Opinion: States Opt Out of Obama’s Expensive Medicaid Expansion

“States and governors across the country are much smarter than trusting Washington.”

July 18, 2012

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Medicaid mandate in the President’s health care law is unconstitutional. Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) explained why states across the country are opting out of the Obama Administration’s expensive Medicaid expansion.

Excerpts of Senator Barrasso’s remarks on the floor of the U.S. Senate:

“Most of the discussion of the Supreme Court’s health care decision has been focused on the individual mandate. That incredibly unpopular portion of the law that forces every American to buy a government-approved product. Government-approved health insurance.

“The Supreme Court has ruled it a tax. It is a tax. Still, the American people know that it is a mandate coming out of Washington that they buy a government-approved product for the first time ever in American history.

“So today I’d like to talk about another important part, which is the Supreme Court’s ruling that the law's Medicaid mandate is unconstitutional.

“As many Americans know, Medicaid is a government program that is jointly funded between states and the federal government.

“The President's health care law contained a huge expansion of Medicaid, and more than half of the new insurance coverage provided by the health care law was supposed to be delivered through the Medicaid program.

“The President's health care law forced states to expand their Medicaid eligibility or face the loss of all their Medicaid matching funds.

“Currently, states put up some money and the federal government puts up some.

“Well, many states felt that this expansion, this forced expansion, this forced mandate on them was unconstitutional, that it was expensive, and it would essentially leave states with no choice but to participate in the program.

“That, Mr. President, is why 26 different states filed a lawsuit against the federal government to stop this massive Medicaid overreach.

“The decision of the Supreme Court made clear that states cannot be forced by Washington. Cannot be forced by Washington to participate in the health care law's Medicaid expansion.

“In fact, Washington Democrats have argued that the expansion is a good deal for states since the federal government is paying for the entire expansion through 2017 and then it will cover 90% of the cost of the states.

“But, again, that's not of all the people on Medicaid, that's only of newly eligible individuals.

“Never mind the congressional budget office predicted the expansion would cost the federal government over $900 billion between 2014 and 2022.

“Apparently Washington Democrats, who have not passed a budget. Members of this Senate have not passed a budget in over three years. They believe that the federal government has extra money to spend. Completely irresponsible.

“The concern of governors of both parties was recently highlighted in a ‘Washington Post’ article. Not only are Republican governors concerned about the expansion but at least seven Democrat governors have been noncommittal about expanding the program in their own states as well.

“Now, governors are concerned because they know that Medicaid has been the fastest growing part of state budget for over the past decade.

“In fact, Medicaid spending has expanded twice as fast, twice as fast as spending on education and this is according to the bipartisan National Governors' Association.

“Now, when asked to comment about the Medicaid expansion, Jay Nixon, the governor of Missouri, a Democrat, said that ‘this deals with hundreds of thousands of Missourians. It deals with their health care, deals with billions of dollars and we will be involved in the process that defines the best fit for our states and respects the sovereignty of our state and the individuals of our state.’

“Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat governor of Montana put it best when he said ’unlike the federal government, Montana just can't print money. We have a budget surplus and we're going to keep it that way.’

“So unlike this current administration, governors of both parties recognize the importance of controlling government spending.

“Washington cannot expect states to simply trust that the money will come through in the future.

“States basically don't trust Washington, and they are right to not trust Washington. States and governors across the country are much smarter than trusting Washington.

“If the White House and Democrats in Congress had actually focused on lowering cost, that was the supposed to be the concern of the health care law, lowering the cost of care. And if the White House and Democrats in Congress had actually focused on lowering the cost of care, states now wouldn’t be facing this bad choice.

“We need to repeal this bad health care law. We need to replace it with legislation that will make it easier for states to work with Washington without going bankrupt.

“We need to move forward, we need to move forward with legislation that will allow Americans to get what they've been looking for, which is the care that they need from a doctor that they choose at lower costs.

“So the health care law may not be unconstitutional. It continues to be unworkable, it continues to be unaffordable and it continues to be unpopular.

“That's where we are today which is why we need to repeal and replace this health care law and my advice to governors around the country would be wait until after the election to decide what you want to do about Medicaid expansion because we are continuing to work to repeal and replace this broken health care law.”