When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court last June, the law did not actually come out completely unscathed. Under the original plan, states opting out of the ACA’s expanded Medicaid services would have all Medicaid benefits revoked — even while residents were still being taxed for the service.
However, the Supreme Court overturned that portion of the law, granting states the right to opt out of the expansion without fear of being reprimanded. Since the ruling, five Republican governors have already opted out of the program, and four more states are expected to join the non-participation ranks.
Medicaid is the only source of health care available in all 50 states, according to the National Council of La Raza (NCLR). Of those covered under the program, 49.8 percent are Hispanic children. But as the political battle over the health reform law rages, more and more states are opting out of participating in the Medicaid expansion coverage.
While the decisions may seem politically based, Latinos Post reports not all Republican governors have jumped onto the band wagon when it comes to Medicaid.
“We’re going to make a very careful review of it and do what I think is best for the people of Pennsylvania,” said Republican Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett. “The Supreme Court decision changed the dynamic.”
Fellow Republicans from Oklahoma and Virginia have not yet voiced opinions. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin says she will make a decision prior to the November election, while Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell — who was among those suing the federal government in the Supreme Court — says he will not put a time frame on his decision.
Democrats, generally supportive of the law, claim Republicans are moving based only on political positions, not on what is really best for their states.
“My guess,” said Democratic Governor Peter Shumlin of Vermont, “is that they [Republicans] will beat up [President Obama] for passing a great bill until he’s re-elected and then join up and take the money because they know it’s the best thing for their states.”
While the country waits for the November elections, many people set to benefit from the Medicaid expansion are waiting in limbo. Of those, Hispanics are the demographic with the lowest insurance percentages. The Office of Minority Health reports 30.7 percent of Hispanics in the U.S. do not have health coverage during 2010, compared to approximately 11 percent of non-Hispanic whites.
Under the Medicaid expansion, the NCLR says Hispanics would see the largest increase (18 percent) of non-elderly, newly insured individuals. Of those newly insured, nearly 50 percent would be directly related to the Medicaid expansion program. Under the ACA expansion, 3.1 million Hispanics — almost half of those are children — would gain health insurance.
Latinos living in states who opt out of the program will not be able to take advantage of new coverage, such as the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a program designed to cover children from families above the Medicaid income maximum but who are unable to afford private coverage.