We expect a certain level of cynicism and hypocrisy from the Republican party, but I would say this is truly audacious even for them.
As you've probably heard, Republicans senators are trying to buy the support of their colleagues for the Graham-Cassidy deathcare bill by adding special carve-outs and hand-outs to specific states, but there's one carve-out that was already part of the bill from the beginning.
The Graham-Cassidy bill would end Medicaid expansion and convert Medicaid into a block-grant system, something Speaker Paul Ryan has been trying to achieve since at least 2011, but Graham-Cassidy would also redistribute funds from states that expanded Medicaid to states that chose not to expand Medicaid.
More specifically, Graham-Cassidy includes a provision that would explicitly benefit states like Wisconsin by allowing the state to receive a block grant of funding that includes the money the state would have received if they chose to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.
Not-coincidentally, Senator Ron Johnson is one of the four co-sponsors of the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson bill.
In a written statement provided by aides, [Senator Ron Johnson] said funding formulas to correct “the grossly unfair” distribution of money under Obama’s law needed to be changed “to reflect the unique circumstances of many states, including recognizing the innovative reforms of Wisconsin.” [...]
The provision does not mention Wisconsin by name. But it lets some states that turned down extra federal funds to expand Medicaid to count the rejected money in a formula determining how large a state’s newly created block grant will be.
Wisconsin is among 19 states that declined to fully expand Medicaid under Obama’s law, which also provided generous federal reimbursements. Under Gov. Scott Walker, a GOP 2016 presidential contender, Wisconsin just partially expanded Medicaid and agreed to accept smaller federal subsidies.
The "grossly unfair" distribution of money.
I was going to say this is like wanting to have your cake and eat it too, but it's more like eating the fucking cake and asking for a second one that belongs to the next table.
What Ron Johnson says is "grossly unfair" to the state of Wisconsin was actually a conscious decision made by the state legislature and Governor Scott Walker to refuse the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare. Residents of the state who aren't aware of these circumstances may say it's "unfair" that other states expanded Medicaid while theirs did not, but that choice was ultimately made by their elected leaders, not President Obama.
But, at the end of the day, Republican politicians want money, don't they? Of course they do, and that's why Ron Johnson has co-sponsored a bill that gives his state more money at the expense of others
What make this especially infuriating is the fact that this money would not come at the expense of others under Obamacare. The taxpayers of Wisconsin are paying for Medicaid expansion right now even if Governor Scott Walker won't let them have it. And, if Walker expanded the program tomorrow, the money for it would not come from other states because the money has already been appropriated by the federal government.
That is not the case under Graham-Cassidy-Johnson. Under their bill, other states would lose their funding so Ron Johnson's Wisconsin could receive the money they turned down the first time it was offered to them.
If you understand all of this, it's easier to understand why their colleague Senator Rand Paul would say this is Obamacare-lite because, from a certain point of view, it is. It's Obamacare-lite, he says, but it's actually Obamacare-lite for Republican states. They've drafted a bill that would redistribute funding from high-population centers in liberal states to conservative states that rejected Obamacare.
And it's also punitive, isn't it? Taking money away from other states to give it to your own is punitive and, according to those who know better than I do, more than likely unconstitutional.
Obamacare was never ruled unconstitutional because Medicaid expansion was afforded to every state even if they turned it down. And, ironically, the Supreme Court did strike down the portion of Obamacare that mandated the expansion of Medicaid, allowing men like Scott Walker and Ron Johnson to reject it in the first place.
But Ron Johnson wants that money now and that's why he co-sponsored this bill. It redirects money to politicians in his own state who have never acted in the best of their own constituents. Under different circumstances (mainly, if Democrats were in charge) Republicans would say this is an example of the government wedging itself between doctors and patients, but their bill would do exactly that in all 50 states.
All politicians are interested in legislation that directs more money to their states, but Republicans like Ron Johnson like to cloak their cynical, naked money grabs in the language of limited government and "federalism."
I don't know if Republicans have enough votes to pass this bill, but just the fact that they're considering it should be a permanent stain on their records. Every time they speak of limited government and hand outs, they should be reminded of this. The Johnson provision is more or less the biggest earmark in history.