Hating On Obamacare Is Coming Back To Haunt This GOP Candidate For Governor
This time, Medicaid expansion is the issue. And he’s not the only one struggling.
If you want to see just how dramatically the politics of health care have shifted, pay close attention to the governor’s race here in Michigan and what Bill Schuette, the GOP nominee, is saying about his state’s expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
“Healthy Michigan is the law,” Schuette told David Eggert of The Associated Press this past week, referring to Michigan’s expansion by its formal name. “It’s not going anywhere.”
That is quite a statement coming from Schuette, who, as Michigan’s attorney general, has spent most of the last eight years decrying and fighting “Obamacare.” But it also makes a lot of sense, given his current political predicament.
Approximately 680,000 Michiganders now have health insurance because of the Medicaid expansion, under which the state makes coverage available to all people with incomes below or just above the poverty line. And the opponent that Schuette has drawn for the general election is Gretchen Whitmer, former Democratic leader in the state Senate. Whitmer doesn’t merely support the expansion. Back in 2013, she played a pivotal role in passing it.
Whitmer these days brings up the issue every chance she gets ― in speeches, interviews and now a television ad that is running in markets across the state. “Since we expanded Medicaid in Michigan, 680,000 people can now afford to see a doctor when they need one,” Whitmer says in the spot, which comes from an independent group affiliated with the Democratic Governors’ Association. “Now Bill Schuette says he would get rid of Medicaid expansion.”
Polls show Whitmer with a double-digit lead and, according to several recent media reports, the Republican Governor’s Association has been shifting money out of the state ― presumably, because Schuette’s prospects of victory are looking dim. Although there’s no way to know how big a role the Medicaid expansion has played in the campaign, it says a lot that Whitmer keeps trying to talk about Schuette’s record on it, while Schuette keeps trying to downplay it.
And Michigan isn’t the only state where that’s happening.
Just like Republicans running for Congress this year, Republicans running for governor in several key states are struggling to defend their records of trying to block, undermine and repeal the Affordable Care Act.