A determination to thwart Obamacare at all costs is behind the decision by 24 Republican-leaning states to decline the expansion of Medicaid for families earning up to 138 percent of the poverty level — $23,550 for a family of four. The expansion would cost those states almost nothing: The federal government pays the entire cost for three years, and covers 90 percent of the price thereafter. Even as a statement of ideological opposition to government subsidies for health care, opposition to the expansion makes little sense, because the 24 boycotting states already offer Medicaid. This isn’t a debate over health care; it’s an attempt to make a political statement at the cost of one’s fellow citizens: The political wrangling has left 5.7 million potential recipients in the lurch.
That’s why a bipartisan coalition of New Hampshire legislators and Democratic Governor Maggie Hassan recently approved the expansion for up to 50,000 Granite State families. Now a similar bill has passed in Maine, the last New England holdout. Governor Paul LePage, a Tea Party-linked Republican, has vetoed such measures in the past, and has until Wednesday to do so again. But he shouldn’t. LePage can register his disapproval by allowing the bill to become law without his signature. But an estimated 70,000 Maine families really need the help.