Red states lose out on ObamaCare grants

A hard-lined effort by Republican governors to keep ObamaCare out of their states has also kept millions of dollars in federal grants out of their state coffers.

This week, the federal government doled out $665 million in grants to 28 states to encourage healthcare innovation. Just six of those grants went to GOP-controlled states.

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Altogether, the government has divided more than $1 billion among 34 states, representing about 60 percent of the total population, according to a release from the Department of Health and Human Services.

But a closer look at the winner’s list shows strong defiance by GOP state leaders. Only 40 percent of the innovation grants went to states with Republican governors.

For the states that didn’t get grants, party politics — not poor grantwriting — is largely to blame. Every state that applied for a grant got some money, HHS said.

Republican governors' refusal to accept ObamaCare dollars is increasingly frustrating Democratic state lawmakers, who feel that they are forfeiting free money.

“People are dying every day and we’re leaving dollars on the table,” Florida state Rep. Cynthia Stafford (D) told The Miami Herald this week.

“I think it’s a very wrongheaded approach at the state level to continue to turn away dollars that can help Floridians,” another Florida Democrat, state Sen. Dwight Bullard, said.

In the 17 states where uninsured rates are higher than the national average, five GOP governors took the grants: Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arizona and Idaho.

But even more declined.

The health departments of Texas, Florida, Georgia, Alaska, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina and North Carolina all failed to apply for the grants. Each of those states have at least 15 percent of their population lacking insurance.

Buy-in from states has been a major challenge for the Obama administration since the healthcare law’s rollout.

Dozens of states have resisted key components of the law, such as expanding eligibility for Medicaid and giving lawmakers the power to reject rising insurance rates.

The 23 states that have refused to expand Medicaid are already losing out on billions in federal dollars to help cover more low-income people.

Still, recent moves by Republican Govs. Bill Haslam of Tennessee and Robert Bentley of Alabama on Medicaid hint that an expansion isn’t totally off the table even in deep red states.