Republican Govs. Scott, Branstad balk at accepting health law Medicaid expansion

Remarks begin at 5:15 mark

Two Republican governors in key battleground states said on Sunday they are pushing to reject matching the federal government’s expansion of Medicaid under President Obama’s new healthcare law.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad balked at the idea of expanding their states’ Medicaid ranks, saying that their budgets cannot take on additional entitlement spending.

“This is just another government program where the federal government will run out of money and they'll put it on the states again,” said Scott on Fox News Sunday.

“We can't afford it in Florida. Medicaid in our states is growing at three and half times our general revenue. And it's a big program. It's over a $20 billion program. We can't afford it.”

Branstad said his state’s taxpayers would be hurt by adding more people to the list of who is eligible for Medicaid and he pointed to the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that allows states to opt out of the federally expanded program without jeopardizing their existing Medicaid funding from the government.

“Our concern is the federal government can't afford it and we don't think that the state of Iowa can do it,” said Branstad, also on Fox. “And what they want to do? Add another 15 million to 17 million people to the Medicaid rolls.

“It's unaffordable, unsustainable at even the federal or state level. And if we buy into it, then we have a maintenance effort requirement and when the federal government can't afford to do it, the burden gets dumped on the taxpayers of our state.”

Instead, the two governors said they were actively exploring private care alternatives for expanding medical access to people whose healthcare benefits would be affected if the state declined to take part in the federal Medicaid expansion.

“We're going to a statewide managed care program... across the state where the Medicaid population will be taken care of by managed care organizations, which will help make sure they get to a primary care doctor, or get to a special, so they don't end up in emergency rooms,” said Scott.

“That's the way to fix it. Don't take money from the federal government that we know long term they're not going to be able to give to us.”

Branstad said he was pressing to strengthen ties between Iowa’s government and private companies in the state as they look for ways to prevent health problems for taxpayers and tamp down on overall healthcare costs as a result.  

“We are working in a public-private partnership with private sector businesses like Wellmark, our largest health insurance provider and with Hy-Vee, our largest supermarket chain, identifying ways to help people do health risk assessments and identify how they can reduce their risk factors,” said Branstad.

“And so, our goal is to partner with the communities, partner with the private sector to help reduce the healthcare cost, not buy into a government program that's unaffordable and unsustainable.”