Is Indiana a turning point for Medicaid expansion?

It was encouraging to see that the Republican governor of Indiana has decided to provide Medicaid coverage to eligible citizens in his state.

The most disturbing result of the Republicans' opposition to the Affordable Care Act has been the failure of so many Republican governors to provide Medicaid coverage to citizens of their own states, even though funds are already available to provide this service.

The decision of Gov. Mike Pence to provide Medicaid services could prove to be a game-changer. Pence is an important conservative Republican who has been considered a serious potential candidate for the Republican nomination for president.

There are a number of reasons why this move might turn out to be very significant. Because of his importance to the party, Pence might be able to influence additional Republican governors to provide these services, as well. The agreement he was able to work out could serve as a prototype for other states. It is interesting that Pence felt comfortable making this move despite opposition within his own party. Perhaps the power of the extreme right wing to control the agenda is weakening a little.

Could this attempt to find reasonable compromises extend to the workings of Congress in Washington? Maybe there is finally a little less venom directed at this president or there are fewer Republicans willing to be bound by the strategy of opposing anything President Barack Obama recommends, even if they agree with the policy.

We need you! Support independent Catholic journalism. Become an NCR Forward member for $5 a month.

Now would be a great time to move forward in areas where there should be enough bipartisan agreement to get something done. I think of trade agreements, infrastructure bills, and an agreement on fighting the Islamic State group. Immigration remains difficult, but it should be on the agenda.

What is striking is how Pence and the Obama administration were able to work together in a civil fashion to make Medicaid expansion possible in Indiana. Both sides were willing to compromise with the goal being to provide services to those in need. That has to be a major step forward.

Some Democrats are not happy with this compromise. One could find fault with making participants pay some fees in order to receive services. It could deter some from seeking coverage.

It is always the details that provide fodder for disagreement, but for too long, some of these details have simply served to scuttle any kind of agreement. It is precisely when viewpoints are so divergent that compromise is the only way forward. It is the job of government to try to accommodate both sides of the argument. That usually means that neither side is fully satisfied, but at least something important is being accomplished. In this case, thousands of people will be receiving critical services they need that had been denied to them until now.

Are we finally beginning to see some adults in the room? Can Texas and Florida be next with Medicaid expansion?


Join the Conversation

Send your thoughts and reactions to Letters to the Editor. Learn more here

Advertisement