By Lisa Lambert –
(Reuters) – The Supreme Court decision allowing U.S. states to opt out of expanding Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor, is pitting governor against governor, with Democrats accusing Republicans of being more concerned with election-year politics than solving healthcare problems.
The issue that dominated the annual National Governors Association meeting this weekend in the historic Virginia town of Williamsburg was the court’s ruling that Congress cannot penalize states who refuse to enroll a wider group of people in Medicaid, which is operated by states with federal reimbursements.
The Affordable Care Act, which would expand coverage to families with incomes of up to about $30,000, had directed Congress to withhold Medicaid funds from a state that did not expand the expensive program, which already can take up to a third of state spending.
In the two weeks since the court’s decision, five Republican governors have opted out of expanding their states’ programs and at least four more are leaning toward the same. Many more are undecided. These governors say they were caught by surprise after expecting the court to either strike down or uphold the entire law that they derisively call “Obamacare.”