Chris Christie is set to lay out his 2013 budget proposal to New Jersey lawmakers later this afternoon, but the Star-Ledger scoops what’s likely to be the big takeaway: He’s ready to accept the Medicaid expansion offered by Obamacare:
As for his decision to expand Medicaid, the Republican governor, a critic of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, could reap up to $300 million by expanding the state program in the coming budget year. For weeks, a coalition of labor, religious, family and consumer groups waged an aggressive letter-writing and media campaign encouraging Christie to expand the Medicaid program. Doing so, they argued, would allow 300,000 uninsured and childless people to apply for Medicaid.
Before passage of the Affordable Care Act … people without children were not eligible unless they applied for welfare and earned no more than $140 a month. Allowing the expansion would reduce the burden on hospitals to treat uninsured patients, and the state, which partly reimburses those costs. The revised Medicaid program would shift 100 percent of the costs to the federal government for these new enrollees for the first three years, then gradually taper it to 90 percent. The state could expect $1.7 billion a year to cover the costs.
The move would make Christie the eighth GOP governor to break ranks with his party and side with the president on the issue of Medicaid expansion. The move comes one week after Florida Gov. Rick Scott made a similar decision, a reversal that was probably an even bigger get for the White House given Scott made his name in the Sunshine State by opposing the president’s landmark health care law.