Medicaid is trying to break North Carolina’s economy. It’s an out-of-control mess. In 2013, as ObamaCare was being implemented, states were being encouraged to expand their Medicaid programs as a way to smooth the rollout of that bureaucratic nightmare.
In 2013, conservatives urged the GOP majority on Jones Street to block the expansion of Medicaid — as a way of protesting ObamaCare. At the time, Gov. Pat and Speaker Thom belly-ached about that tactic. But, seeing the votes were not on their side, they quietly went along.
In late 2013, Gov. Pat decided to start picking a fight with legislators. He vetoed two pieces of legislation they passed, and the honorables proceeded to force-feed those vetoes to him.
In 2014, Gov. Pat’s fellow Charlottean — Speaker Thom — is seeking to replace Kay Hagan in the US Senate. Gov. Pat has decided to, um, “aid” that effort by publicly attacking the Republican majority in the General Assembly.
While serious work is going on about the state budget, Gov. Pat is off watching minor league baseball, chatting up NPR, and hanging out with Joe Biden and other politicos in Tennessee. He’s apparently enjoying the national media attention he’s receiving in Nashville. Fox News asked Gov. Pat if he’s planning to run for president in 2016. (At this rate, Pat’s going to have a rough time getting renominated — much less re-elected — as governor in 2016.)
The Washington Post has fawned over Gov. Pat. Our guv — bashfully blushing over the attention from the drivebys — decided to babble to The Post about how he’s reconsidering ObamaCare:
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) said Monday he would leave the door open to expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act if federal officials allow his state to craft a plan that fits its own individual needs.
In an interview on WFAE, Charlotte’s NPR affiliate, McCrory defended North Carolina’s refusal to expand existing Medicaid programs until fixes are made.
“We decided not to [expand the program] because first of all the existing Medicaid system in North Carolina is broken,” McCrory said. “I felt, before you expand something, why don’t you fix the services to those people in which Medicaid was originally designed.”
Asked directly whether North Carolina would ever expand Medicaid, McCrory said nothing is off the table: “I’m leaving that door open. Once we fix the current system, I have not closed that door as governor.”
McCrory was one of a handful of governors, along with New Jersey’s Chris Christie (R), Connecticut’s Dannel Malloy (D) and Nebraska’s Dave Heineman (R), who met over the weekend with Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell on the sidelines of the National Governors Association meeting in Nashville. McCrory said he was exploring whether HHS would sign off on waivers that would allow North Carolina to craft its own plan.
“What we’re trying to figure out is how we can get more waivers to adapt to what North Carolina needs. For example, if I expand Medicaid, can we do it in a strategic way instead of across the board?” McCrory said.
If North Carolina and HHS were to agree upon waivers, McCrory would be following a well-trod path of Republican governors who accept federal money to cover more low-income Americans under Medicaid, even if they don’t call it Medicaid expansion. Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) and Christie accepted federal funding to expand Medicaid. So did Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R), though his administration cast it as a solution individually tailored to Hoosier needs.
But passing Medicaid expansion, or anything like it, would be politically difficult, given the heavily conservative bent of the Republican-dominated state legislature. The legislature passed a measure in 2013 to prevent the state from accepting Medicaid expansion, and both House Speaker Thom Tillis (R) and state Senate President Phil Berger (R) are against expansion.
We’re told that Speaker Thom is Gov. Pat’s ONLY friend in the General Assembly. But he’s GONE at the end of the year — regardless of how the November vote goes. That leaves Phil Berger as the lone BIG DOG on the block. That’s right. The guy McCrory has been mercilessly attacking every time a microphone gets shoved in front of his face.