The program is the center of an ideological war for the future of the American safety net.
The battle for Medicaid moved to Maine this week.
On Tuesday, the state’s voters approved expanding Medicaid to 70,000 of their poorest residents, circumventing the archconservative governor who has blocked the expansion five times in the past four years. “Maine people have supported this for years,” Ann Woloson, who worked in support of the ballot initiative, told me the day before the vote. They would finally get it.
But less than 24 hours later, that governor — Republican Paul LePage — signaled he would do whatever he could to block it.
Farther down the East Coast, Virginia voters may have shockingly swept a Democratic House into power — in an election where health care was the biggest issue and those voters went dramatically toward Democrats — a crucial step toward Medicaid expansion in that state.
But on the same day that voters across the country signaled they want a more expansive Medicaid program, President Trump’s top Medicaid official, Seema Verma, sketched out her own vision for Medicaid, one that would take the program in a drastically new direction from what it had become under the Obama administration. She described a smaller program, with fewer enrollees and more restrictions. She said her own goal was moving people off the program’s rolls.
“For this population, for able-bodied adults, we should celebrate helping people move up, move on, and move out,” she said. “The thought that a program designed for our most vulnerable citizens should be used as a vehicle to serve working-age, able-bodied adults does not make sense.”
Medicaid, long the forgotten sibling of our social safety net, has now become the central battleground in the fight over America’s social compact.
This battle over Medicaid is, at its core, Read More Here