States Bucking ‘Obamacare’ Are Among Those With Highest Rates Of Uninsured

July 5, 2012 1:58 a.m.

Many of the governors threatening to stymie implementation of the Affordable Care Act preside over states with high uninsurance rates, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Kaiser data breaks down each state’s population by source of insurance, and by percent uninsured. Unsurprisingly, Massachusetts has the lowest uninsurance rate in the country, thanks to the universal health care bill Mitt Romney signed, and which ultimately became the model for the Affordable Care Act.

But many of the states with high-profile conservative governors vowing to stand athwart the ACA’s progress, by refusing to expand their Medicaid programs and erecting hurdles to establishing insurance marketplaces, would stand to gain the most from successful implementation of the law.

With a 21 percent uninsured rate, Florida is tied with Nevada and New Mexico for second to last place in the country. But conservative Gov. Rick Scott is vowing to opt out of a Medicaid expansion, almost fully financed by the federal government, now that the Supreme Court has ruled that the feds cannot threaten states with the loss of all their Medicaid funds for refusing to expand the program.

South Carolina and Louisiana aren’t faring much better with 19 and 17 percent uninsurance rates respectively. Their Republican governors, Nikki Haley and Bobby Jindal, are also planning not to accept federal funds to expand their Medicaid programs.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, both Republicans, are exceptions to the general trend. Though each of them has vowed to fight the ACA however possible, their states enjoy relatively low nine and 12 percent uninsurance rates.

One important caveat: the most recent data from Kaiser is for 2009-2010. These rates may have changed in the past two years. And governors elected in 2010 can’t rightly be blamed or credited for data that predates their terms. But broadly speaking, uninsurance is a bigger problem in the south than in the rest of the country. And that’s the region where governors and lawmakers are going to be under the most pressure to buck the provisions of the ACA that would do the most to provide coverage to their uninsured populations.

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