I’ve been a critic of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s (R-CA) policies for the better part of his term as governor. But Thursday, his support for the California Medicaid would make opponents proud.
Arnold had been a wavering, sometimes supporter of health care reform throughout the debate. More recently, in early January, he called the legislation “health care to nowhere” despite the fact it looked very similar to reforms he proposed in California.
Thursday, the California governor came out in strong support of the health care reform law, becoming the first Republican governor to do so. “The bottom line is this: If national health care reform is going to succeed, it has to be a partnership, like with everything, a partnership between the state and the federal government,” he said.
Now for the fun part.
Arnold’s announcement came the in the same letter as the state ask from the US Department of Health and Human Services for over $4 billion a year in additional Medicaid funds. This Medicaid waiver has been in the works for a long period of time, but with the state’s fiscal distress the waiver is larger than the state has asked for in the past. It is needed in the state too. With nearly 1/4 of the population uninsured and historically low Medicaid payments, the waiver will go a long way to help doctors and low-income individuals in the state. The waiver would expand eligibility for Medicaid coverage to 200% federal poverty, well above the reform’s 133%.
Of course, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius praised the Governator immediately after his move. She needed this win, as state after state has been uncooperative to say the least in signing on to implement the reforms.
Now, with talk of changing the constitution reemerging to allow the Austrian born Republican governor to run for president, the Governator has once again returned to the spotlight as a national model for moderate conservatism. Yey?
By Emma Sandoe