Chris Christie is one of the GOP governors who hasn’t yet decided whether to accept the Medicaid expansion that is a big part of Obamacare. It sets up a real political and policy conundrum for Christie. You might even call it a delicious conundrum were the stakes not so high for low income New Jersey residents in need of health care. Here’s TPM Reader LM:
I’m so glad you are focusing on this Medicaid expansion issue. Please do so for New Jersey as well.
Christie is at 73 percent because of Sandy and his bipartisan response that showed zero qualms about taking fed money for Sandy rebuild. But he hasn’t decided yet whether to take the Medicaid expansion money. Doing so would be a huge boon to the state budget (getting 90 percent federal funding for people who were either 100 percent state charity care or something like 60 percent state Medicaid under New Jersey’s General Assistance (welfare) program) and would probably help many Sandy victims as well. But not doing it would be pretty catastrophic because the hospitals are losing their disproportionate share Medicaid money regardless and if there isn’t Medicaid coverage for their frequent flyers, they are pretty screwed.
It just seems like such a no-brainer, but the conventional wisdom in New Jersey is that Christie won’t take it because he’s “running for president.”
On the other hand, if he follows Martinez and Sandoval’s lead, it would be a pretty big deal message-wise. On the heels of his more lefty gun control rhetoric, it would further that he isn’t afraid of the national tea party/crazy caucus, that he will do anything to help New Jerseyans post-Sandy, and that he won’t cut his nose off to spite his face budget-wise. It would definitely keep him in 73% land.
If he goes the way of Rick Scott on this Medicaid issue, Booker really needs to take another look at the governor’s race, because not taking this money would be the single stupidest thing Christie would have ever done in his tenure. And he’s done a lot.
David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.